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Condor Biosphere Reserve

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Condor Biosphere Reserve PIP 2000

From lush montane forests to snow-capped volcanoes, the Condor Bioreserve, located in northern Ecuador, includes six protected areas and their buffer zones. The 2.4 million hectare reserve protects water sources for 70 percent of the 1.5 million people living in Quito. Sixteen different habitat types are also represented in Condor, resulting in the wide array of flora and fauna found within the reserve’s borders.

did you know?

An estimated 80 condors are left in all of Ecuador. Condors were once at risk because people believed the myth that condors carried off children and livestock. In reality, because of their feet condors can only feed on carrion and small prey.

volcano, Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi Volcano © Andy Drumm

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total area protected:
320,000 acres

Northern Andean Paramo, Eastern Cordillera Real Montane Forest, Napo Moist Forest

partner organization:
Fundación Antisana, Fundación EcoCiencia, Fundación Rumicocha

Ecological Importance

The Andes mountains are home to more than half of the vascular plant species in South America. Twenty-thousand of those species are found nowhere else in the world, and half of those are found in the Condor Biosphere Reserve. In the explored areas of the reserve, more than 760 bird, 150 mammal, and 120 amphibian species have been found, amounting to 29 percent of all species in Ecuador. Endangered species such as the Andean condor, the spectacled bear, mountain tapir, and river otter also find refuge in the reserve.


The integrity of the Condor Biosphere Reserve is threatened by the expansion of unsustainable agriculture and cattle ranching activities. The construction of poorly planned roads and diversion of water sources affect the sensitive aquatic systems of the reserve. Unsustainable forestry and hunting activities threaten the endangered spectacled, or Andean, bear.

A Strategy of Success

By using Conservation Area Planning (CAP), the Parks in Peril program (PiP) and its partner organizations are concentrating conservation efforts in Condor on protecting the core areas of the reserve and maintaining the corridors that connect them. PiP is encouraging private landowners to preserve native wildlife habitats and protect watersheds by limiting development in order to create corridors between protected areas. Ecological easements are also being implemented with willing landowners the in Palugillo, Itulcachi, and Inga communities.

PiP is working with local municipalities to coordinate water resource management and conservation. The Quito Water Fund (FONAG) has capitalized $1.4 million by using yearly interest and is funding projects in the Oyacachi, Antisana, and Pita watersheds. Interest from the Cayambe municipality in water conservation within and outside the reserve has spurred a cooperative agreement between the municipality and PiP partner Fundación Antisana (FA) to manage and conserve parts of the Andean region in the Cayambe-Coca Reserve.

Concerned about resource degradation, Cofán and Oyacachi communities have completed resource management plans for their areas. PiP is working with the Sinanagoe Cofán community to co-manage parts of the reserve, strengthen their community park guard system and obtain long-term financing for the Cofán Federation. FA is also working with the Cofán community that lives in 20,000 hectares of the reserve on a sustainable hunting and wildlife protection project.

Read more about Condor...

Condor Bioreserve
Fundación Antisana
Fundación EcoCiencia
The Nature Conservancy in Condor Biosphere Reserve
Online field Guide to Condor Biosphere Reserve

Read more about projects in Ecuador...

Podocarpus National Park
Machalilla Reserve

Ecuador Partner Organizations

The Nature Conservancy in Ecuador