Biodiversity in Ecuador
By Martijn Van Vreeden

Ecuador is a rich country when it comes to biodiversity. Even though Ecuador is only the size of the state of Nevada, its biodiversity exceeds the one from the United States in total. According to the World Resource Institute Ecuador is one of the few countries on earth categorized as “megadiverse,” owing to the variety of its ecosystems and species.

Within three hours, you can drive in Ecuador from arctic tundra to sweltering beaches, from a temperate pine forest to a tropical wet forest, from a desert landscape to wetlands filled with mangroves. Ecuador is also the most ethnically diversified country in Latin America, a home to large Arab, Asian, Caucasian, African, and Jewish populations. In the Native Indian population, one can find tribes living in very primitive conditions, from those who were recently head shrinkers to the most entrepreneurial otavalenos, known around the globe for the quality of their textiles.

According to the Natura Foundation, an environmental non governmental organization (NGO), approximately 50 percent of Ecuador is suffering from various degrees of soil erosion, and deforestation is 45 percent in the lowlands, 48 percent in the highlands, and 8 percent in the Amazon basin. Thousands of acres of forest disappear daily, despite laws that prohibit the cutting down of trees and the exportation of wood. It has been calculated that deforestation amounts to 680,000 acres per year (approximately 2,000 per day), and in less that forty years not a single forest will remain.

We can certainly say that biodiversity in Ecuador is decreasing rapidly. Several aspects of the society are to blame. Mainly the lack of enforcement of laws and the corruption by the government seem to have a great affect on the preservation of the countries most valuable treasure. The lack of insight in small communities who own large parts of natural habitat of animals is also a threat. Preservation of the biological diversity can be achieved by educating these communities and stimulating ecotourism, or sustainable development.

Martijn van Vreeden has been working and living in Ecuador for several years using his background as a project director to work on sustainable development programs around Ecuador. Martijn is currently working as the project director of Moving Ecuador to preserve the cultural diversity of Ecuador and proote responsbile travel in Ecuador.

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