Watershed management and mountains
Management of Chimborazo’s Natural Resources Project
Project symbol: GCP/ECU/080/GEF
Ecuador is one of the world’s “mega diverse” countries, thanks to the extraordinary variety of ecosystems and species that co-exist in a relatively small territory. Over generations indigenous communities have adapted to the high biophysical diversity and have developed sophisticated agricultural and livelihood systems. However, the existence of serious environmental problems in Ecuador is causing the deterioration of natural ecosystems, the extinction of species, and the loss of genetic diversity of both wild and cultivated organisms.
Photo © Magnus Von Koeller/ Flickr
The Andean Páramos is a mountain endemic ecosystem to the region which is generally characterized by a cold and humid climate and which is located between the upper tree line and the perennial snow. The páramos are characterized by their rich, sponge-like soils and vegetation that capture and retain water, acting as a buffer against floods and droughts. They serve as a critical provider of environmental services, supplying water for irrigation, human consumption, and hydropower to large numbers of people in the lowlands.
The Ecuadorian Province of Chimborazo has the largest and best-conserved expanse of páramos in the country but at the same time Chimborazo is the second poorest province in Ecuador with an estimated 80 percent of the population living below poverty line. Because of poverty, small landholdings and population pressure, campesinos have over time been obliged to overuse soils, eliminate fallow periods, and extend cultivated and pastoral areas into higher altitudes, at the expense of the páramos. These practices have resulted in the loss of habitats and biodiversity, unsustainable water use practices and reduced water flows, soil erosion and inappropriate management of the natural resources overall.
The proposed Chimborazo Natural Resources Management Project is a joint effort by the Chimborazo Provincial Council (CHPC), other national partners, FAO, and the GEF to support the conservation and sustainable management of the páramo ecosystem and its natural resources and the improvement of the livelihood situation of the local population. The proposed project will be partially blended with and co-financed by the IBRD-supported Chimborazo Productive Investment (PIDD) Programme (Loan No. 7496-EC, signed in April 2008), which objective is to increase production and market access of rural families through investments in irrigation and roads improvement. The project area includes five sub-watersheds (including the Chimborazo Fauna Reserve) within the Chambo and Chanchán river basins covering about 114,400 ha.
Photo © Aris Mihich / FAO
The project’s Global Environment Objective is to conserve and sustainably manage the Chimborazo’s páramos and the biodiversity of the mountain ecosystems and to improve local livelihoods through strengthening of necessary policy, legal and institutional frameworks and local awareness, capacities and incentives for participation in planning and sustainable natural resource management. The project’s Development Objective is to re-establish and sustainably use the agro-biodiversity and the páramos ecosystems and to improve food sovereignty of the local indigenous population dependent on Chimborazo’s mountain ecosystems applying modern watershed management approaches. The project will be implemented with the following components and sub-components: