The Place


Tropical Polylepis woodlands of the Andes are a highly endangered part of the local ecosystem and are also a major resource from which communities earn their livelihood. Unsustainable use of these forests and surrounding habitats is causing erosion, the loss of precious topsoil, and water usage problems.

Short term objectives in land use, such as cattle overgrazing and the use of fire to clear the land, have had an extensive impact on biodiversity. In addition, knowledge of the Polylepis, especially in reference to its regeneration, is limited. Often foreign trees such as Pine or Eucalyptus are used in place of native trees because of increased information available on their growing habits as well as their commercial value. However, these foreign trees only increase problems of erosion and topsoil loss.

Inside a Polylepis forest- from

  Deforestation directly effects the Andean people. Precious topsoil is lost without the trees to block the wind and hold the soil in place, and landslides threaten villages and roads. The loss of habitat is rapidly destroying one of Ecuador's most precious treasures: their natural diversity. The introduction of foreign trees is destroying the delicate balance of nutrients and water in the soil, making it increasingly difficult for farmers to grow the food they need.

More Information on Polylepis Conservation

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Fundación Ñucanchi Yuracuna
Conservation, Education, and Hope in the Andes of Ecuador
Date Last Modified: 5/18/99