It may be the smallest Andean country with only a total land area of 283,561 km2 and a population of 15.98 million, but Ecuador encompasses the four distinct biogeographic regions of the Amazon, the Andes, the Pacific coastal plains, and the Galapagos Islands. Nearly 80 percent of the country’s forests (10 million hectares) is in the Amazon region, with about 13 percent near the coast, and the remaining 7% in the Andean highlands. The country has experienced major changes to its forest landscape, including agricultural expansion and illegal logging. Ecuador’s economy is heavily interlaced with world oil prices, with oil revenues funding many of the country’s ongoing reforestation and conservation projects.
According to a 2014 opportunity costs analysis of REDD+, deforestation in Ecuador is caused primarily by agricultural expansion due to land use change, from forests to subsistence agriculture, and illegal logging. The growth of palm oil plantations has destroyed natural forests near the northwest coast while gold mining has caused deforestation, degradation, and water contamination. An estimated loss of 65,880 hectares per annum was reported in Ecuador from 2008-2012. However, the outlook is optimistic, as the government has been proactive in undertaking significant deforestation efforts, including a commercial reforestation program to restore at least 120,000 hectares of forests by 2018 and reduce deforestation in Ecuador by 30%. Ecuador is the first country in the world to recognize the rights of nature under its constitution, and aims to guarantee those rights with specific GHG reduction mechanisms such as REDD+.
Through its leverage of FIP funding, Ecuador will restore as much as 1,500,000 hectares of degraded forests.
In conjunction with the World Bank, FAO, UNDP, and UNEP, Ecuador is partnering with the CIF to leverage FIP funding and ensure long term sustainability of conservation and forestry efforts. FIP resources, along with REDD+ activities and ongoing government efforts, are expected to strengthen rural productive systems and mitigate agricultural drivers of deforestation. The potential of FIP investments in Ecuador indicates significant impacts that will initiate transformational change, while working in synergy with ongoing efforts to mitigate climate change and to promote forest sector development.