The Republic of Ecuador, located along the Equator in northwestern South America, is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It includes the vast Amazon rainforest region, the Andean highlands and the Pacific coastal region. Approximately half of Ecuador is covered by forest, but the country has some of the highest deforestation rates in Latin America in recent years. Ecuador became a partner to the UN-REDD Programme in 2009.
In June 2010, UNEP-WCMC collaborated with the Ministry of Environment to map carbon and potential co-benefits for Ecuador (see summary report in English or Spanish). A new national map of biomass carbon stocks was generated and combined with datasets on biodiversity, Protected Areas and other factors such as poverty, population density, forest cover loss and oil and gas exploitation.
Findings show that the majority of the 1.63 Gt of biomass carbon held in Ecuador’s terrestrial ecosystems is located in the rainforests of the Amazon region and the foothills of the Andes. Significantly, 40% of the area in Ecuador that is high in both biomass carbon and biodiversity (more than 48 800 km2) comes under some form of protection. Existing sites within the country’s Socio Bosque Programme (which aims to conserve more than 3 million hectares of native forest and other vegetation over the coming seven years) contain approximately 5% of the country’s biomass carbon (see map). This figure could grow to over 30% if other sites identified as high priority (but which do not yet formally exist) under the Programme are incorporated.