People Allied for Nature (PAN) is a 501(c)(3) organization, founded in 1994, whose mission is to help local communities in developing nations safeguard their environment by establishing wildlife and nature reserves. Towards that end, we employ an innovative strategy predicated on the active cooperation of the people whose standard of living depends on the exploitation of the areas we seek to protect. Our aim is to encourage conservation by addressing the socio-economic causes of deforestation at the grass roots level.
Fog Forest Stream
Having identified the remnant forests of western Ecuador
as one of the world's most threatened ecosystems, we approached the people of Loma Alta, a small indigenous rural
community nestled in the Chongon - Colonche mountain range, with a view to preserving the unique pre - montane fog forest that still existed on their land.
By 1996, we had completed a creative mix of related projects. A submersible pump donated by Goulds Pumps, Inc. was installed to provide running water for one of the community's four settlements. An environmental education program had been put in place. Participatory scientific research studies, funded by the Earthwatch Institute, had been undertaken in such diverse fields as sociology (using IFRI methodology), botany and fog capture. Our objective was to demonstrate to the community that their water supply, and hence their economic survival, was directly linked to and dependent upon the health of the fog forest.
Our hard work was
rewarded when the villagers voted to set aside more than
1,500 acres of their forest for future generations and establish the very
first Communal Ecological Reserve in western Ecuador. Since then,
PAN's varied accomplishments at Loma Alta have
included the following:
· Establishing a tagua crafts workshop to provide an alternate source of income for villagers who had agreed to cease exploitation of the forest.
· Identifying and compiling a list of the over 200 species of birds that inhabit the Ecological Reserve.
· Mediating a land dispute between the community and an invading cattleman.
· Sponsoring an operation that helped a crippled child walk again.
· Providing assistant teachers and school materials to the community's elementary schools.
Environmental Education Class
· Subsidizing and equipping forest rangers to protect the integrity of the Ecological Reserve.
· Reforesting over five acres of degraded pasture land.
Initiating, in association with the Watershed Monitoring
of Lakes and Streams program established in the State of
The result has been an enduring
relationship with the local people based on mutual trust, respect and
affection. Today, the Loma Alta Ecological Reserve consists of 7,500 protected
acres, an area representing over 40% of the community’s land!