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Ecuador announces a new national park in the Andes

07 / 02 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

On January 23, a new national park joined Ecuador’s 54 protected areas. Río Negro-Sopladora National Park lies in southern Ecuador’s Morona Santiago and Azuay provinces within the Cordillera Real Oriental mountain range and next to Sangay National Park. The area is dominated by almost-intact Andean páramos – treeless alpine plateaus – and forests that are home to a great variety of animal and plant species. Because of the region’s biological and hydrological importance, Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment (MAE) and the non-governmental organization Nature and Culture International (NCI) signed an agreement in 2017 to incorporate 30,616 hectares of the Río Negro-Sopladora area into the state-owned Heritage Natural Areas Subsystem (PANE) and the National System of Protected Areas Project in Ecuador. On January 23 in the city of Macas, in Morona Santiago Province, Minister of the Environment Tarsicio Granizo declared the new national park in front of 300 guests. Río Negro-Sopladora National Park is home to 344 recorded species of vascular plants. Photo by Wilson Romero Since 1971, Río Negro-Sopladora has been protected under the category of Protected Forests and Vegetation Areas of the Paute River Basin. According to Fabián Rodas, coordinator of the NCI’s Austro program, this is “a very weak conservation category.” Between Sangay National Park and Podocarpus National Park, which are both areas with global implications for the conservation of biodiversity, there are 160 kilometers (about 100 miles) of almost-unprotected land. “During the last few years, an area with gaps in conservation has been identified,” said Rodas. The…

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