Ecuador: The Socio Bosque Program

Map of priority areas for Socio Bosque. Source: Ministry of Environment, Ecuador.
Area characterisation: 

Ecuador has one of the highest deforestation rates in South America. Between 1990 and 2015, the country’s forest cover was lost at an annual rate of about 0.6%, due to expansion of agriculture, oil exploration, logging, mining as well as insecure land tenure, and weak public institutions. Illegal and informal timber harvesting is widespread throughout the country. Furthermore, Ecuador is highly vulnerable to climate change, due to its economic reliance on resources that are affected by climate change, especially in its high-altitude ecosystems (including forests). Forest resources are especially important for those living in rural areas, many of whom rely on these resources for their livelihoods.

Slideshow:

Ecuador from Google Earth Engine where significant forest portion of the country can be seen Two plots in an ‘analogue forest’ - Photo credit: Liette Vasseur Two plots in an ‘analogue forest’ - Photo credit: Liette Vasseur
Objective: 
  • Conserve native forests and other native ecosystems to protect their ecological, economic, cultural and spiritual values.
  • Significantly reduce deforestation and associated GHG emissions.
  • Improve the well-being of farmers, indigenous communities and other groups living in the country’s rural areas
Actions: 

The Socio Bosque Program that began in Sept 2008 is an initiative of the Ministry of the Environment of Ecuador (MAE) that offers economic incentives to owners of land with native forests to guarantee its protection over the medium to long-term; to date, conservation agreements have been signed for 630,000 hectares.  The Program gives priority to areas with a rapid dynamic of land use change, areas that are critical for the maintenance of ecosystem processes that generate benefits for society and areas with a high incidence of poverty.

Potential impacts/benefits: 

Restoring ecosystems and their functions

Developing climate change mitigation

Developing climate change adaptation; improving risk management and resilience

Increase Biodiversity

Increase quality and quantity of green infrastructures.

Improve connectivity and functionality of green infrastructures.

Increase achievements of biodiversity targets.

Increased cultural richness and biodiversity

Carbon sequestration and storage.

Reduce run-off.

Reduce flood risk.

Increase infiltration / Water storage.

Transferability of the result: 

Government giving initiatives to their citizens to be engaged in afforestation can be applied to all countries where the climate is suitable and the soil fertile to preserve and expand the floral environment. One of the main things that needs to be considered is the market of the target country and its economy can benefit from these actions in order to be sustainable and not injurious e.g. in this case study the produced wood is a main resource for the people of Ecuador as they rely a big portion of their livelihood in it.

Lessons learned: 
  • Individual commitment / Sense of ownership. People are more committed to protect nourish the land when they have the ownership
  • Conservation actions must be coupled with income in order to generate activities for long-term sustainability.