Preserving the Chocó Rainforest of Mompiche and reforesting

We purchase tropical rainforest and legally designate the land as an ecological reserve. This ensures the forest, and its inhabitants, are protected from commercial, agricultural, or industrial exploitation and allows for the regrowth and regeneration of degraded areas.

October 2023: 47 hectares protected by the foundation, 5000 trees reforested

The Tumbes–Chocó–Magdalena biodiversity hotspot

Mompiches Rainforest is part of the Tumbes–Chocó–Magdalena biodiversity hotspot. A region of 274,597 km2 stretching from Panama to Peru including 11 subregions like the "Galápagos Island xeric scrub" 1. While regions in Panama and Peru are fairly intact the "Western Ecuador Moist forests" has been cleared up to 98% making it the most threatened tropical forest on earth 2, 3.

This ecoregion is a part of a bioregion renowned for hosting one of the highest concentrations of endemic bird species in the world, with a total of 650 identified species. What makes it truly remarkable is its rich diversity of endemic plants, with approximately 10,000 plant species documented, of which 2,500 are found nowhere else (Dodson & Gentry 1978, 1993).

Glass frog

Existing laws do not prevent forest exploitation.

Despite its small area, Ecuador is the eighth most biodiverse country on Earth. Ecuador has almost 20,000 species of plants, over 1,500 species of birds, more than 840 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 341 species of mammals.

Ecuador also has the distinction of having the highest deforestation rate and worst environmental record in South America. Oil exploration, logging, and road building have had a disastrous impact on Ecuador’s primary rainforests, which now cover less than 15 percent of the country’s land mass4.

Ecuador is the first country to include the “rights of nature” in its constitution with the intention of preserving its priceless biodiversity, but sadly, the government does very little to enforce its policies. In reality, priority is given to mining and oil industries that destroy and pollute forests and water sources.
In Mompiche rainforest is being replaced with shrimp pools, monocultures, mines and cattle farms.

By clicking or touching the map you will see the loss of rainforest in western Ecuador between 1986 and 2008. Green represents forest. Yellow is no forest and black represents cloud cover. 2

Whats left after a slash-and-burn operation. A very common sight in West-Ecuador.

About Mompiche.

Mompiche is a small village at the pacific coast in the canton Muisne. Muisne is one of the poorest cantons in Ecuador, where over one-third of the population earns less than 84.05 USD per month and almost 15% suffer from extreme poverty, defined as a monthly salary lower than 47.37 USD 5 5. Mompiche is a town embraced by nature and enriched by its wonderful people, yet it grapples with economic hardship. The picturesque streets remain unpaved, and the absence of clean drinking water and a proper sewage system underscores the need for development.

Mompiche main road at night.

However, many locals own patches of land, often passed down through generations. Some of these land titles trace their roots back many generations. Esmeraldas, settled by freed slaves since the 16th century, boasts the highest percentage of Afro-Ecuadorian inhabitants in the country. Until the 1990s, vast parts of the province remained accessible only by boat. Furthermore, the area holds pre-Columbian roots, as Mompiche was once a significant center for trade and commerce among the Moche people. Evidence of their presence still lingers in the form of petroglyphs and other artifacts discovered in the region.

Rainforest ist constantly for sale.

In the Mompiche area, portions of the rainforest are nearly always up for sale, often from family-owned lands. Unfortunately, companies involved in deforestation for monocultural plantations or cattle farming often possess the financial means to acquire these parcels. Consequently, the tree cover of the region is rapidly disappearing.

Map of Mompiche area with showing that in the years from 2016 to 2023 is a loss of about a quarter of the rainforest

Loss of rainforest in Mompiche from 2016 to 2023 in dark red. Yellow areas: Shrimp Pools. Light red: Farming and settlements. Green: Secondary rainforest 6

A view over the Mompiche Region from the foundations ground towards the pacific. The dark red spot on the upper left in the map above represents the burned forest almost in the center of this picture.

Protecting rainforest is a very efficient way to fight species extinction and climate change.

o counteract this threat, Save The Paradise takes proactive measures by acquiring parcels of tropical rainforest from private landowners under the foundation's name. These lands are then legally designated as ecological reserves in perpetuity. Our approach is intentionally designed to safeguard the forest's future, as even the foundation, as the landowner, cannot alter its protected status. This unwavering commitment ensures the rainforest and its diverse inhabitants remain shielded from the perils of commercial, agricultural, or industrial exploitation, allowing for the gradual regrowth and rejuvenation of previously degraded areas.

Protected land within the Estero Mompiche Watershed (brown). Blue: Save The Paradise Foundation, green: Land of foundation partners managed by the foundation, yellow: Conservation Network of Mompiche (CoNeMo). 6

Reforesting of 5000 trees so far.

With the help of our strategic government allies, the Prefectura de Esmeraldas, we were able to reforest a total of 5000 trees on the foundation's and its partners' grounds. All of this was achieved with the invaluable support of the people and children of Mompiche.

Reforesting Action on the foundations ground.

Mompiche could be an example how to make a difference.

Fortunately, this community is home to amazing people who believe in the beauty and importance of living harmoniously with nature. Together, we can fight against the negative influences of multi-national corporations and save the paradise for everyone and everything that calls this land home.

Read also:

Better than buying land.

Besides purchasing land to prevent deforestation, our approach focuses on inspiring people not to sell and take active roles in protecting the land themselves. Discover more about our social-economic initiatives, including the Community Center of Arts and Culture and our project for Aiyana Chocolate Manufacture run by women.

Building a wildlife corridor.

Save the Paradise Foundation is actively working to expand the wildlife reserve in Mompiche, Ecuador. With the support of our donors and strategic partners, the foundation has protected 47 hectares after just four years of hard and committed work! By bringing together a community of like-minded neighbors, we have created a nearly contiguous network of protected areas in order to create a wildlife corridor connected to the Ecological Reserve of Mache-Chindul in about 4,5 km distance.

Read the full  Article described above

1 Tumbes–Chocó–Magdalena biodiversity hotspot on Wikipedia.

2 Gonzalez, V.; Fries, A.; Rollenbeck, R.; Paladines, J.; Oñate-Valdivieso, F. & Bendix, J. (2016): Assessment of deforestation during the last decades in Ecuador using NOAA-AVHRR satellite data. Erdkunde 70(3), 217-235.

3 Salgado, J., Montúfar, R., Gehrung, J., & Atallah, S. (2023). Intergenerational livelihood dependence on ecosystem services: A descriptive analysis of the ivory palm in coastal Ecuador. Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, 1-19. doi:10.1017/age.2023.21.

4 Nonprofit environmental science and conservation news platform Mongabi: Ecuador Forest Figures.

5 Dora: Ecuador: Armut und Arbeitslosigkeit imCorona-Jahr drastisch gewachsen. America21 2021

6 Copyright of the background map: National Geographic Mapmaker. Imagery for gathering the delta in rainforest loss is provided by the Copernicus Dataspace Browser for the Sentinel satellite imagery.