La Hesperia is a nature reserve located in the western range of the Andes at an altitude of 1100 – 2040 meters above sea level. With an area of 814 hectares, it is located in the center of the Rio Toachi-Chiriboga IBA (Important Bird Area, declared by Bird Life International and Conservation International) and it is part of two important bioregions: The Tropical Andes and the Chocó Darien – Western Ecuador, considered within the top five biodiversity hotspots on earth. The station works in natural conservation, combating deforestation, protecting existing forest, restoring degraded areas and searching for sustainable activities that enable us to support the reserve and to offer a better way of life for the local community as well as those who work and live at the reserve.
La Hesperia encompasses three types of forest: pre-montane evergreen, low montane and high montane (cloud forest). Within the boundaries of the reserve there are 287 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, and 63 genera of butterflies (several lists available). The vegetation is typical of the cloud forest, which has the highest diversity of epiphyte plants. In the nursery several endangered tree species are reproduced.
Some of the common animals are: White-fronted capuchin monkey, Tayra, Agouti, Paca, Peccary, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Wattled Guan, Pale-mandible Araçari, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and Lineated Woodpecker. There are also records of some of the Chocó endemic birds like: Dark-backed Wood-Quail, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Empress Brilliant, Violet-tailed Sylph, Tucan barbet, Plate-billed Mountain-Toucan, Chocó Toucan and Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager.
The work that we do at La Hesperia is extremely important in terms of preserving the biodiversity of the cloud forest and protecting local watersheds. Our work focuses on protecting existing forests through reforestation, monitoring human activity and its impact and conducting environmental education. La Hesperia is also striving to become a model of integrated farming where agricultural practices complement our primary objective of preserving the natural forest. Combining conservation and agriculture will enable us to sustain the reserve and promote economic activities that are environmentally friendly and beneficial for the local inhabitants.
La Hesperia’s main goals are:
- Protecting existing forest
- Maintaining the reserve as an IBA (Important Bird Area)
- Working toward sustainable development
- Creating programs to foster community development
- Restoring degraded areas within and outside the reserve
- Educating the public about conservation and ecology
- Conduction research
- Sharing our experiences with nature enthusiasts, local communities and volunteers.
For better achievement of our goals we are open to cooperation agreements with conservation and social institutions. At the moment, we have partnerships with the Tangaré Foundation, Great Wilderness and Earth Restoration Service