BIODIVERSITY IN THE PROJECT AREA
Ecuador, and particularly the Montane Cloud Forest Region within which the project is situated, is renowned for its richness in biodiversity. While a wealth of knowledge exists with respect to its unique diversity including the many endemic species, in depth knowledge of species dynamics and ecosystem function is still limited, as is detailed information on biodiversity.
An important objective of the project is to increase the level of knowledge about local biodiversity within the project area and the wider region.
It is very likely that additional species and ecosystem characteristics will become better known as a result of the project.
Regional studies provide information related to known ecosystem classifications and attributes including forest structural attributes; species richness; and levels of endemism in the broader Montane Evergreen Forest Region.
Owing to of a number of factors including its Equatorial location and large geographical variations from the Ecuadorian coast to the Andes Amazonian, Ecuador has been declared as a mega-diverse country (along with another 16 countries around the world), containing what is estimated to be 5% of the world's biodiversity. The historic isolation of the Amazon due to the mountainous Andes resulted in the evolution of many new species.
Ecuador is ranked tenth in the world in terms of the commonly considered gene, species and ecosystem levels of biodiversity organisation. An estimated 8% of amphibian species, 5% of reptile species, 8% of mammal species, and 16% of bird species in the world are found in this diminutive country, which comprises only 0.2% of the world’s land area. High rainfall, tropical conditions and isolation (topographical separation of the Amazon) contribute to the notably high biodiversity within the Montane Cloud Forest region of Ecuador.
Prior to and during 2016 several official bodies focused their attention on the Ecuadorian Andean Region; The Ministry of Environment; ECOFONDO; The Museum of Zoology; Royal Ontario Museum; Swedish Museum of Natural History; The Ecuadorian Museum of Natural Sciences; The Institute of Biological Sciences of the School Polytechnic National; Pontificia Universidad Católica of Ecuador; and other entities, together with national and foreign researchers developed a research programme called "Noah's Ark" (funded by the Senecyt). Noah's Ark aims to index and exchange information on the region (from their databases), including the genetic information local to the area, exposing the biological diversity existing in Ecuador to the world. This biological classification so far describes approximately 70% of the wild life as it currently is.