The Ecuadorian Government is taking bold steps to protect the country's native forests - natural 'gold mines' that store large amounts of carbon, harbour some of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet, and provide numerous other benefits to people and nature.
The Socio Bosque (Forest Partners) programme provides financial incentives per hectare of forest to individual landowners or indigenous communities who volunteer to conserve their native forest. It aims to protect four million hectares of forest, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation and improving the living conditions of one million of the country’s poorest people.
Balancing the needs of people and nature
The programme ensures direct and equal benefits for local people who help reduce deforestation and aims to find a balance between conservation and human well-being. It is also the central component of the Ecuadorian proposal for REDD-Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation which IUCN is supporting.
“Since the beginning of the implementation of Socio Bosque in 2008, the number of hectares of conserved forests and paramos has increased from 178,000 to 629,476 in 2010”, said Max Lascano, Director of Socio Bosque.
The first agreements were signed in the Amazon region and the province of Esmeraldas which has the highest deforestation rates in the country. By the end of 2010, Socio Bosque had signed 988 agreements. Although 924 were signed with individual landowners, community agreements represent the highest percentage of hectares under conservation and beneficiaries.
The incentives currently total US$ 3,335,272 million per year and benefit more than 64,000 people. Research shows that individual landowners mostly invest the money in household consumption, with 38.33% of it used for food, clothing, education and health but also in conservation (27.37%). Some communities invest the money in conservation first, followed by housing and other domestic needs.
Beneficiaries of the scheme have expressed satisfaction that "their efforts and willingness to protect their forests are finally getting some recognition and even an economic value”, says Lascano.
For more information contact:
Max Rodrigo Lascano Vaca
PROYECTO SOCIO BOSQUE
MINISTERIO DEL AMBIENTE