"My dream is to live in a world in harmony with Nature. To leave clean water and pure air to the future generations. To use only what we need and to return ten times what we use. To bury consumerism and live in a sustanable way. To spend the rest of my life contemplated the wonderful world of Nature without worrying about how long that beauty will last." ~ Raul Nieto
Since 1989, Itapoa has been working to prevent deforestation while replanting clear cut land and creating new patches of forest. Along with the reforestation efforts, aimed at preserving the unique plant and wildlife, Itapoa's goal is to educate native settlers about the dangers of logging. By training them to use cacao as a cash crop, natives are able to bring in income as an alternative to logging or selling their land, loosing it forever and forcing them to migrate out of their homes and community. We courage neighbors to allow some part of their clear cut land to have the forest grow back with the plants we produce from seeds that are collected for the project. Growing these plants is a large effort we accomplish with the help of many caring and invaluable volunteers. Some of the native plants reintroduced to these area help repopulate species of trees which are almost extinct.
Itapoa Reserve is a rainforest research and conservation project in the northwest of Ecuador. It is located in The Chocó Region which is found in Colombia and the north of Ecuador, from the Pacific coast to the Andes - one of the most beautiful areas of the world. The Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena region counts as one of the world's 34 biodiversity hotspots. A hotspot is a region that contains more than 1500 vascular plants as endemics, and that has lost more than 70% of its primary vegetation. (An endemic species or biologic group is one that has evolved within a restricted area - a unique species that can be found only in that geographical location).
In the Chocó, up to now, more than 11,000 plants, of which 2,700 are endemic, have been listed. The fauna is also particularly rich. So far 285 mammal species (11 endemic), 890 bird species (110 endemic), 327 reptile species (98 endemic), 203 amphibian species (30 endemic) and 251 freshwater fish species (115 endemic) have been identified. This is truly an area full of unique and varied plant and animal life.
Itapoa itself has a botanical garden with more than 400 species of flowers, tropical fruits, orchids, palms. 300 acres of rainforest in the middle of the jungle, plus a smaller piece of land where the headquarters of the project is, the gardens and 20 acres of forest as well.
We protect the jungle that we have and buy more for its conservation. We tell people about the importance of the forest and its future. We create biological corridors filled with native plant species hoping it will stay this way forever.
We also train and educate concerned individuals and future field biologists who come to volunteer with us from all over the world. We want everyone to feel as passionate about preserving rainforests as we do and to help in any way they can.
Itapoa's founder Raul Nieto also give talks in the US and Europe about the future of the Rainforest, focusing mainly in the bio diversity of the region and the destruction occurring in the last 40 years, due to a law which mandated to clear cut 50% of the forest. Since the 70s, the Chocó has been exploited by forestry companies. Tropical rainforest have an impressive number of tree species. Particularly sought after for their diverse properties, its wood is used for floorboards, sculptures, plywood, posts, resin for rubber, and nowdays tourist souvenirs.
Today, the deforestation continues exterminating thousands of species of plants and the animals that lived there. Once the forest was clear cut for the wood alone. Now the forest is disappearing faster as it is being converted to a huge mono culture of African palm to produce biodiesel = NECRO DIESEL and replace fossil fuels. BIODIESEL and the idea of replacing fossil fuels with agro carburants is sentencing to death the last jungles. Because of this, only 5 % of this forest remains in Ecuador.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF REPLACING FOSSIL FUELS WITH BIODIESEL?
None. Biodiesel, and specifically the African Palm plantations used to grow palm oil for biodiesel, not only kills the wildlife and endemic plant life of the area it threatens carbon absorption, oxygen production and water production which is critical for our planet.
-One hectare of forest has approximately 2500 trees and other plants, along with the animals living there. One hectare of African Palm to produce oil for biodiesel has only 157 palm trees.
-One hectare of mainly broad leaf forest trees can absorb over one thousand TONS of CO2 a year; it releases tons of Oxygen. Each tree can produce $46,000 dollars of water every 50 years, plus the benefit of obtaining food. Also there is the chance of finding plants that might be cures for diseases that affect millions of people throughout the world.
-One hectare of African palm absorbs less than 10% of CO2 and produces less than 10% oxygen compared to the hectare of natural rainforest. Biodiesel African Palm plantations pollutes water, decertifies the land within 50 years and kills every form of life. It takes away the land from the people of the jungle and releases millions of tons of Carbon to the atmosphere when the forest is cut down.
-The only benefit of biodiesel is MONEY for selfish and short minded individuals who know fossil fuels are running out and who want a new fast money making business, compared to using other alternative energies.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Just by reading this and enjoying our coffee or chocolate, you are already helping. But you could do more if you wish.
-Tell more people what is happening to the forest..
-Stop buying products from palm oil, such as, shampoo, soap, cosmetics, cooking oil or BIODIESEL.
-Buy our “CHOCOLATE TO SAVE THE FOREST” or our coffee.
-Read about the Choco region and get informed. Buy our publication for yourself or a gift. 4 Euros of every book goes to support Itapoa Reserve's conservation efforts.
-Contribute with donations such as money, camping gear, nature guide books or scientific books etc....
-Come to visit our project in Puerto Quito for a two day learning experience.
-Be a volunteer in one of the ten most bio diverse regions of the world.
-Be part of a long lasting experience in a paradise full of birds, mammals, plants, waterfalls, etc… Get involved in the fight against destruction and global warming.