50 years ago, there were 50 million hectares of cloud forest on Earth. But our cloud forests are being lost at an alarming rate, in excess of 1% every year. Thankfully, Ecuador is at the forefront of cloud forest conservation, protecting this irreplaceable ecosystem within its numerous national parks and reserves.
The Mashpi Reserve is the vanguard for cloud forest conservation. It’s a research station for exploration and discovery, as well as home to Mashpi Lodge, one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World. Founder Fernando Timpe was once a logger, but he’s transformed to become one of the most vocal, influential protectors of Ecuador’s cloud forests. His story is inspiring the next generation of conservationists.
The basis of Mashpi’s approach is that viable conservation strategies must be based on a comprehensive understanding of the cloud forest ecosystem. That requires gathering information on a myriad of natural elements, from speciation to endemism, and the way in which birds and plants interact. The lessons learned here can be developed into conservation policies, tried and tested, and then rolled out nationwide.