REPLANTING FORESTS IN THE ANDES
Planting forest since 1993
The Andes region has been heavily populated since the time of the Incas. The need for land for agriculture and livestock farming, firewood and timber for home construction resulted in deforestation. Only 5 to 10 per cent of the primary forest is estimated to be left in the region. Face the Future has been working together with the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment since 1993 on reforestation of the Andes. PROFAFOR (Programa Face de Forestación) was established as the legal representative of Face in Ecuador. In this project, landowners receive technical and financial support to plant forests on grasslands. Most landowner prefer to mainly plant pines and some eucalyptus trees. These species grow relatively well and have economic value. Income is vital for the landowners, which include rural communities, certainly because many rural communities in the Andes mountains face poverty. Landowners sell wood from the forests for much of their livelihood.
In a number of cases, indigenous species are planted, especially Polylepis. In the Neblina Reserve, a protected forested area in the north-west of Ecuador, many species have been planted that are native to the tropical rainforest. The forests of the Sierra, the Ecuadorian Andes high country, are also called cloudforests. Although it does not rain much there, it is often extremely misty. This causes slow growth as well as slow decay of organic material, creating one of the richest ecosystems for plant species in the world. Conditions there are ideal for epiphytes: plants that grow on trees. They get their water and food from the rain and the air, and ensure that humidity in the forest remains high when the sun is shining.
The Amazon region
PROFAFOR also works on forest protection and restoration in Ecuador’s Amazon region. With various rural communities, including the Santa Rita community, PROFAFOR works on protection and restoration in the Biological Reserve Colonso Chalupas, in combination with improving agroforestry practices.