Bird on a Vine

About the Cambugán Watershed

The watershed of the Cambugán River is located in the western Andean mountain range, about 50 km north of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and just 15 km north of the equator. The area belongs to the parish of San José de Minas in the region of Quito, in the province of Pichincha. The small red dot on the adjoining map can be used to zoom in on the area. Due to its remote location and the steep slopes within the Watershed, human impact has remained minimal thus far. As a result, an extraordinarily high level of biodiversity has been preserved, making the Cambugán area a prime location for conservation efforts.

The Cambugán Watershed is approximately 5 km wide and 12 km long at an elevation of 1300m to 3200m. It was formed by a tributary stream that carved its way into the western Andean mountain range and formed steep slopes in the land, often with an incline of more than 30 degrees.

Because of its location on the western flank of the Andes, the area disappears almost every afternoon in a cloud of mist and rain falls throughout the evening. This creates the cloudforest climatic region where high levels of biodiversity both in flora and fauna have developed. In fact, an initial study of just 1 hectare (3 acres) in the lowland areas registered 1411 individual trees (5 cm wide and greater), which represented 132 species of trees.

Human impact on the Watershed has remained restricted to 3 families using the northern part of the watershed for charcoal production. These families have agreed to stop this destructive activity if we assist them in finding sustainable economic alternatives. Other small areas close to the rich, torrential river and some grass fields that stretch up the steep slopes are used for cattle grazing as well as marginal corn cultivation. These two examples are the only current evidence of human land use. And we’re fighting to keep it that way.

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