THE ANTISANA ECOLOGICAL RESERVE CELEBRATES ITS 25TH YEAR AS A PROTECTED AREA

During July, the Antisana Ecological Reserve (REA by its acronym in Spanish) celebrates year 25 of its declaration with the inauguration of a complex intended to provide easier access to researchers studying the reserve’s biodiversity and conservation.  This project was funded with a contribution by Oleoductos de Crudos Pesados (OCP) Ecuador. 

Quito, July 28, 2018. To celebrate the 25 years since the area surrounding the Antisana volcano was declared a reserve, the Ministry of Environment (MAE), thanks to a USD $180,000 investment by OCP Ecuador S.A., has made new infrastructure available to the scientific community and tourists. This will include all the facilities needed for researchers to pursue their research in an area of great natural importance in the country. 

Santiago Sarasti, the Safety, Health and Environment manager for OCP Ecuador S.A., stated that “As a part of our environmental awareness ethos and commitment to the country, we firmly believe in the benefits of private-public alliances. This new infrastructure and improvements will promote the conservation of the resources in protected areas.”

The collection of cabins —designed to accommodate researchers during their field work, as well as to allow visitors to host meals outdoors— is located in the vicinity of the La Mica lagoon, one of the main sources of drinking water of the city of Quito. 

These improvements are part of the framework agreement in place between MAE and OCP Ecuador S.A. for one million dollars, for activities that promote conservation and research to scientific standards.

For Santiago Silva, National Director of Biodiversity for the Ministry of Environment, a number of climatic zones can be found in the 120,500 acres that comprise the REA, ranging from moors, to the Andean forest, to the Amazon. According to figures provided by this official, some 46,000 people visited this place in 2017 alone, making this one of the most visited sites by the residents of the city of Quito. 

Some 50 researchers arrive on average each year to conduct research in the REA. As such, the infrastructure delivered by OCP is considered a generous contribution both to scientific research of emblematic species like the Andean condor or the spectacled bear, and to the planning for responsible tourism —increasingly necessary as regards the protection of natural reserves.  

By December of this year, a section of the facilities is expected to hold an interpretation center to inform visitors of the results of the research being conducted in the REA, which currently includes the monitoring of the Antisana glacier by the INAMHI and the French Center for Scientific Research, and of the water quality by Quito’s Metropolitan Drinking Water Company.

The Antisana Ecological Reserve

Over 150 species of birds, some 73 species of mammals from 23 families and around 43 species of amphibians are part of the natural heritage of this wonderful area, which throughout July will celebrate its 25th year since being declared an ecological reserve. A new area for tourists, scientists and university researchers has been opened to the public as a part of the festivities.

The history of how it came to be declared a protected area is rich in details. The Pinantura area, one of the main ingress points of the Antisana Ecological Reserve (REA), had long ago been property of the Pintag chieftains who, in 1619, sold this land to a family of this area. Since then, multiple people have owned this place until July 20, 1993, when the Ministry of Environment declared the area surrounding the Antisana volcano, which is part of both the Pichincha and Napo provinces, an Ecological Reserve. 

This place, whose heritage is not only natural but historical, served as a base for a number of scientific expeditions between the XVIII and XX centuries. The Management Plan of the Antisana Ecological Reserve, published by the Ministry of Environment (MAE) in the latter months of 2017, describes that in the first half of the XVIII century, French scientists arrived to make geodesic measurements. In 1802, Baron Alexander Von Humboldt tried to scale the Antisana, and conducted important research describing its flora and volcanological features. Scientists such as Stubel, Wolf and Reiss also laid down solid theories about the geological constitution of the Andes.  

Since then, multiple scientific expeditions and research have taken place in the areas around the Antisana, Their conclusions have contributed greatly to it being declared a State-protected area as it is home to unique and important ecosystems.