In Ecuador, local communities are no longer able to protect the rainforest as they fail to cope with the economic pressure. In order to face this threat, the Ecuadorian government, with the support of WWF-Belgium, has set up the Socio Bosque project, which additionally contributes to the development of the local communities.
The tropical rainforest forms a valuable buffer against global warming and hosts an exceptional biodiversity. In the past, local communities have been strongly committed to protecting their country’s natural resources. However, as they no longer had the opportunity to send their children to school or to call upon health services, they were compelled to increase logging in the tropical rainforest in Ecuador. The inhabitants switched to unsustainable agricultural practices or even resold their land. In 2008, the Ecuadorian government therefore decided to set up the Socio Bosque project whereby land owners and indigenous population groups receive financial support for each hectare they protect over a period of twenty years.
Positive consequences for biodiversity
By means of Socio Bosque the government wants to protect indigenous nature and at the same time fight against deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. This is of key importance! The tropical forest houses no less than 2.5 million insect species, 400,000 plant species, 3,000 fish species, 1,294 bird species, 427 mammal species, 427 amphibian species and 378 reptile species.
Involve the local population
The project intends to offer a financial alternative to indigenous population groups facing the pressure of important foreign investors. Socio Bosque offers communities support as well as the means to invest in the long term. And this is where women can play an important part, as they are given the opportunity to set up commercial activities. As a matter of fact, women are significantly better than men when it comes to managing their income and they invest more so as to be able to meet the needs of their families.
As everyone knows, the WWF is actively involved in the fight against deforestation. So it was obvious that this NGO wanted to support the Socio Bosque project of the Ecuadorian government. Since numerous local communities were not well informed about the Socio Bosque project, the WWF decided to set up targeted awareness-raising campaigns. In addition, it provided technical support to the communities so that they would meet the conditions for participation in the project.
Since the start of the Socio Bosque project in 2008, a total amount of nine million dollars has been distributed to approximately 170,000 families. 1.2 million hectares of forest have been protected.
More projects in the future
Since the start of the Socio Bosque project in 2008, a total amount of nine million dollars has been distributed to approximately 170,000 families. Thanks to the project it was possible to protect 1.2 million hectares of forest. Today, several candidates are on the waiting list as the economic crisis affecting South America makes it impossible for the authorities to allocate funds. This does not exclude the possibility of other projects for forest protection to be started. With the support of the Belgian development cooperation, the WWF will start a new five-year project in 2017, intended to help protect the rainforest in Ecuador as well as to develop sustainable agroforestry that will improve the wellbeing of the indigenous communities in the country.