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  Cerro Golondrinas Cloudforest Project

  Moran: Community Conservation Project

  Agroforestry Program

  Demonstration farms

  Vetiver Grass

  Environmental Education for Local Children

  Future projects


Cerro Golondrinas Cloudforest Reserve

Due to the great variety of micro-niches in the Reserve, rates of biodiversity and endemism are phenomenally high. Birding enthusiasts will revel in the opportunities to see condors, toucans, mixed flocks of tanagers, squawking parrots, and hummingbirds in addition to hundreds of other species.  Less common, but resident in the reserve, are also foxes, deer, peccaries, coatis, sloths, puma, and groups of nomadic monkeys.

Ecuador contains more than 20,000 species of plants.  Many of the tropics readily recognizable families are found in the cloudforests of the Golondrinas region, such as: Dracula (Orchidaceae), Cinnamomum (Lauraceae), Mahogany (Meliaceae), Balsa (Bombacaceae), and a cornucopia of tropical fruits, such as Pineapples, Maracuya, Granadilla (Passifloraceae), and Naranjilla (Solanum) which are grown by local farmers. Currently the foundation manages a 1,400 ha reserve at the foot of the Golondrinas peak (3,120 m).

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Moran: Community Conservation Project

The village of Moran is set in a beautiful valley on the edges of the 'páramo.' The village's 13-family farming community is exceptional in that they are very  conscientious of the value of conserving their land. Through their own initiative, the community is in the process of declaring their land 'Bosque Protector' (Protected Forest).
With the support of  the Golondrinas Foundation, the village of Moran: raises endemic species in their tree nursery. reforests abandoned land. provides accommodation for eco-tourists, volunteers and scientists in their 'Cabaña de Moran.'
In collaboration with the Tapir specialist, Craig Downer and the Wildlife Conservation Society, a pair of Andean Mountain Tapirs will be released into the valley. Additionally, the village is seeking support to install a 15 kw hydro-electric plant, which has been researched by Barbara Simaeys.
To get to Moran contact Fernando Calderon, the local milkman. He will drive you to Moran for a small fee. Tel: 593-6-977-274. The three village guides are: Carlos Castro, Hugo Quintanchala and Humberto Meneses.
For all general inquiries contact the Golondrinas Foundation:
tel: 593-2-226-602
e-mail:
golondrinas@ecuadorexplorer.com
(subject: Moran).

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Guallupe: Agroforestry Project

Agroforestry is a farming method in which certain trees, grasses and bushes are mix-planted with regularly farmed crops. When the trees, grasses, bushes and crops are planted in an ordered arrangement, the former provide multiple benefits: a windbreak, an erosion barrier, a means of promoting nitrogen fixing,firewood, and habitat for animals.
In Guallupe, where the Golondrinas Foundation has set up its Agroforestry Center, the very steep farming slopes are in great need of protection. Deforestation, yearly burning and inadequate agriculture practices have created very poor topsoil conditions. The elements have only compounded the effects of degradation. On a ten hectare demonstration site the Golondrinas Foundation is showcasing sustainable farming practices on slopes of 20 degrees and more. The most prevalent method is that of 'induced terracing.
This 'induced terracing' is facilitated predominantly by a grass introduced from the South of India, called Vetiver zizanioides.This plant is used extensively worldwide for erosion control. The Golondrinas Foundation invites motivated scientists in the field of agriculture, ecology and botany to help improve our understanding of this sustainable agriculture method in Ecuador.

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Demonstration farms

Education of local people is one of the primary goals of Fundación Golondrinas. Ways in which they have already established a means to educate the farmers and children of the area are in their model farm, Peña Negra, and in the environmental education courses given to children during the school year which started in 1994. A future project that Fundación Golondrinas would like to implement to extend the educational realm is to install a modest museum at their location in the cloudforest, known as Santa Rosa.

In 1998 a demonstration farm called Peña Negra was set up based on knowledge gained  from the first experimental farm Limonal. This farm will serve as a example of how to maximise yields by planting a variety of short and medium term   trees such as orange, mandarin, lemon, papaya, platano, coffee and coconut in combination with the more traditional beans, corn, yuca and pineapple. Planting such a combination holds advantages over planting just one crop in a field, as farmers tend to do at present. Planting different crop types increases yields, helps to reduce soil loss, improves soil quality and can offer a nutritionally balanced harvest. In addition, a combination of nitrogen fixing trees and other trees which give shade to plants that need it was planted.

   

Four different varieties of pineapple were planted, applying the techniques studied by the Agronomy Engineers of the IGZ in Belgium, who carried out a meticulous study of this fruit. We concentrated on pineapple in particular because it is the traditional crop of the region, there is a known market and it can produce fruit all year around if given adequate care. Moreover, when this fruit is grown in alternating rows with Vetiver grass hedges and short and medium term fruit trees, soil quality is improved and soil erosion is reduced by the formation of terraces. These techniques will allow continuous production from the same plot of land, improving the long-term sustainability of agriculture in the region.
Peña Negra is now ready to be used to give practical courses in these techniques to local farmers under the direction of technicians and personnel from Fundación Golondrinas. Fabian Manteca, who is in charge of the farm, has taken part in courses on agroforestry run by the National Organisation of Agroforestry in Quito.
A second demonstration farm will shortly be set up at Santa Rosa, a higher location at the elevation of the cloudforest. Here a large scale study will take place of two fruits, the naranjilla and the blackberry, to learn more about the appropriate techniques pertaining to their growth within secondary forest (natural areas of regrowth after the felling of primary forest).  From a previous small scale study we are aware of their potential to give at least four years continuous production in this environment. They also have a good market value. This method may offer an alternative to the indiscriminate felling of trees currently carried out by local farmers to provide a source of income for their families, particularly when used in combination with the techniques demonstrated at Peña Negra.
The Santa Rosa field station will produce economic spin-offs for the foundation in the form of money from volunteers, and will also serve as a base for scientific studies of the high biodiversity of this locality. Using funds we have in reserve from donations the foundation has received, we plan to improve the facilities by building more cabins and a small hydro-electric plant, allowing the accommodation of more volunteers to work on the demonstration farm.
Both of these farms will be used during our programme of practical education and training that we will begin to provide in January 2000. These courses in soil management will be given by technicians from Fundación Golondrinas and other specialists to as many communities as possible. However, the foundation realises that in order to achieve this it will have to liaise with the communities to arrange training days at times which suit the farmers. Moreover, the courses will be hands-on and highly interactive. They will begin at a basic level, for example by showing the advantages of planting along contours as opposed to up and down the slope. They will move on to practical tuition in all of the techniques demonstrated at Peña Negra and Santa Rosa, such as the use of Vetiver grass hedges, the combination of different crop types, and the use of secondary forest as a sustainable resource.

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Environmental Education for Local Children

Since 1995, Fundación Golondrinas has been conducting environmental education courses for local children on conservation of natural resources.
It is focused on children because in the future it is they who are going to work on these very fields and they will need to have the basic knowledge to use their land in the best way, applying agroforestry techniques that favor production. It is also a way to stop these soon-to-be-teenagers from migrating to the city and to have work which meets their needs and, at the same time, maintain their culture.
On average, 15 children between the ages of 8-12 participate in the course which is held on weekends starting in November and ending in June.
These classes are dynamic, interactive and open to the children's creativity. It is thus that we see them feel more encouraged and start to have confidence in themselves without having to leave their comfort zone.
Events, talks, videos are held, they celebrate El Día del Árbol (The Day of the Tree), and it is also planned to take them on field trips to other sites that are involved in environmental conservation. The teacher is an enthusiastic individual who knows how to capture the interests and attention of her students and creates fun for everyone while learning.
We are excited about the work with the local children because we see good results and it motivates us to move forward.  For the future we will also involve the local people, present similar courses for the farmers, and give nutrition classes to the local women.
If you would like to support the activities of Fundación Golondrinas, please let us know

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Future Projects

We present to you some of our plans to be realized:

     The projection of a museum with photographs of native species found in the cloudforest
     Reforestation in the Secundary forest with natives plants in extintion
     Expansion of cabins in Santa Rosa
     Adequation of the volunteer house in Guallupe
     Environmental classes to be given to local farmers
     Nutrition classes for women
     Continuation of environmental classes directed to the children
     Fieldtrips and excursions with the children so that they get to know other places in the country that are linked with nature conservation.

The realization of these projects is pending financial support but we have had a lot of support in the past from organizations, friends, and volunteers who have contributed their time and expertise to our project so we hope to have the same luck in the future to be able to continue ahead with the goals of the Foundation.
If you would like more information about future projects or you would like to make a contribution in any form, please contact the Foundation which has addresses for both e-mail and post. The nutrition classes will not be simply courses but will demonstrate available biodiversity of fruits and vegetables which, in the right combination, make up a healthy diet.

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