|Town/Region||Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve|
|Continent||Central and Latin America|
|Date||17 Jan 2004|
A mosaic of secondary forest patches and fields occupy the majority of the intervening spaces between the five protected areas that form the Condor Bioreserve in Northeastern Ecuador. It is critical for conservation to understand how these intervening spaces are managed, because these areas will make or break the conservation value as a single unit. The quality and persistence of the forest patches in particular are critical for conservation because they provide micro-habitat networks across the agricultural landscape for many animal and plant species prevent soil erosion, allow for recovery of soil fertility, control of pests and diseases, sequester carbon, regulate water regime and reduce water loss through run-off on hillsides. Similarly, forest patch quality and persistence also have important implications for rural landholders and sustainable development for the region, as these quality and persistence attributes are related to the economic, social and cultural values placed upon these forests.
The goal of this applied research is to identify the factors that influence the quality and persistence of secondary forests on the farms of smallholders living in the intervening spaces of the Condor Bioreserve. This reserve is located in one of the most biodiverse regions of the world where the foothills of the Andes meet the Amazon. The specific study site is in the northeastern buffer zone of Cayambe-Coca Ecological Reserve. In order to understand the relationship between households livelihood systems and the quality and persistence of secondary forests, this interdisciplinary research will define the livelihood strategies of rural households that contain secondary forests, assess the status of secondary forest succession in each farm, and determine the socio-economic and ecological importance of secondary forests for rural households. The study will also scale up to identify the key distant, intermediate, and proximate drivers that condition the livelihood systems-secondary forests relationships. This research is oriented towards reconciling the dual goals of biodiversity conservation and improved livelihoods for local communities.
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