Ecuador Names Two Wetlands of International Importance

GLAND, Switzerland, January 21, 2002 (ENS) - The government of Ecuador has designated two new Wetlands of International Importance, the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands announced today.

The protected status of the two wetland areas will be effective February 2, World Wetlands Day, which marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Ecuador has set aside for protection the 46 hectare (114 acre) "Refugio de Vida Silvestre Isla Santa Clara" in the Provincia de El Oro, a tiny island with rocky shores in the Gulf of Guayaquil. The other designation covers the 113 hectare (279 acre) "Laguna de Cube" in the Provincia de Esmeraldas, a permanent lake at the southeastern edge of the Mache-Chindul mountains.


Pelicans like this one inhabit Isla Santa Clara (Photos courtesy Ecotourism Ecuador)
Isla Santa Clara forms a complex transitional marine/coastal system in an area of convergence of marine currents and the fresh water of the Gulf of Guayaquil. The island is an undeveloped area of importance for the conservation of waterbirds. It constitutes a major refuge for the marine biodiversity of the continental coast of Ecuador, and was inscribed as a Protected Area of Natural Heritage in 1999.

From archaeological artifacts, the island to be an early refuge of the first inhabitants of the larger nearby Isla Puná, and a point of reference for navigators since prehistoric times.

The island is inhabited by many birds - an estimated 23,000 frigatebirds, pelicans, and terns. It provides a unique opportunity for scientific investigations of marine-terrestrial ecosystems. Artisanal and industrial fishing are supported in the area.

Ecuador has also designated the "Laguna de Cube" in the Provincia de Esmeraldas as a wetland of international importance. An ecological reserve, this permanent lake at the southeastern edge of the Mache-Chindul mountains in the Chaco biogeographical region, is characterized by an extensive surface of marsh and flood areas.

It is the country's only inland wetland in the coastal mountains, at 350 meters altitude, and supports a singular biotic community characteristic of both the Chaco and the Andes.


Reserva Ecologica Mache Chindul, Esmeraldas
The site is located in a large dale surrounded by hills of natural and seminatural landscape, with open, lightly wooded fields in the lower parts and more and less dense woodlands higher up. Small areas of subsistence pasturage and agriculture are found around the lake.

Some 23 species of mammals, 40 species of birds, and 11 species of reptiles are found there.

A group of settlements along the shores has taken the decision to manage the wetland in such a way as to ensure its conservation, and the lake is part of the Ecological Reserve Mache-Chindul.

For both designated wetlands, the NGO Fundación Natura and the Ministry of Environment have compiled the technical datasheets for the site designation with the support of the WWF Living Waters Programme.

Ecuador now has eight Ramsar sites, totaling 83,285 hectares.

The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

There are presently 130 countries that are Parties to the Convention, with 1,129 wetland sites, totaling 91.3 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.