The Conservation of the Andean Bear and the Management of its Habitat at the Northwest of the Metropolitan District of Quito

Fondo Ambiental Quito
Oso de Anteojos, Fondo Ambiental Quito

The Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is the only specie of its group in South America, making it one of the most emblematic inhabitant of the Andean mountain range.

For more than 2,000,000 years (Castellanos et al. 2010), the Andean bear has inhabited in moorland, montane forests, cloud forests and subtropical forests (Tirira 2007) so its conservation has become a priority for the countries across the region.

In Ecuador the Andean bear lives on both sides of the Andes range, in a strip elongated and narrow 200-650 km wide and more than 4600 km long (Kattan et al. 2004), with an altitudinal going from 450 to 4000 m (River-Uzeda et al. 2006).

The Andean moors and forests of the eastern foothills of the Andes are the most important refuges of this specie, thanks to the protection provided by the National Parks Cayambe-Coca, Sumaco-Napo-Galeras, Llanganates and Sangay and Reserva Antisana Ecological (Tirira 2001), this areas, with an effective management could ensure the conservation of populations of bears in Ecuador (Castellanos et al., 2010).

Researches carried out from 2008 to 2016 of the Andean bear and its habitat in the northwest of the Metropolitan District of Quito, through direct observations and the use of trap cameras, has generated important and valuable information about the presence of bear’s population. At least 60 individuals of different ages between males and females have been recorded so far.

The principal ways of threaten the survival of bears are:

  • Deforestation due to the expansion of agricultural frontier.
  • Disorganized land use that causes fragmentation and loss of bear habitat.
  • Informal land tenure
  • Hunting
  • The presence of artificial barriers, such as the Calacalí-Nanegalito road, which limit the normal movement of bears and other large mammals

Results of researches have motivated the Metropolitan Council of Quito, to create the Resolution No. 431 on July 11, 2013. With this resolution the Metropolitan Council created the Ecologic Corridor of the Andean Bear (CEOA -Known by its acronym in Spanish) at the northwest of the Metropolitan District of Quito. The CEOA is located between the rural parishes of Calacalí, Nanegal, Nanegalito, Nono and San José de Minas, with an extension of more than 60,000 hectares.

The Enviromental Secretariat, based on Resolution No.431 and with the participation of different kind of actors, undertook actions focus on safeguarding the population of this emblematic specie and the biodiversity that can be found at the Andean bear corridor.

In this process of consolidation of the Andean Bear Corridor in 2014 and with the support of public and private entities and actors in the territory, the Andean Bear Conservation Program-PCOA 2014-2019 was structured at the Northwest of the DMQ and the Extended Committee was formed Of the Andean-CACOA Bear Corridor.

The vision of the program is that by 2019 the inhabitants of the Metropolitan District of Quito actively support the conservation of the Andean bear, they know that it is important the conservation of the habitat of the Andean bear because it is a habitat with other species of native fauna and flora but also, because those ecosystems of the Metropolitan District of Quito generate important environmental services. That's why its inhabitants promote a sustainable, harmonious lifestyle, respectful of the natural environment. This can be a model for other regions of the country.

The Andean Bear Conservation Plan includes 5 lines of action: Research and Monitoring, Prevention, Control and Surveillance, Education and Communication, Sustainable Productive Alternatives and Local Interinstitutional Management.

The Expanded Committee of the Andean Bear Corridor - CACOA is an information, dialogue, participation and consensus-building space where representatives of local communities, tourism entrepreneurs, environmentalists and entities of the Municipality such as the Environmental Secretariat and Quito Turismo participate to promote Environmental management in the territory of the Andean bear corridor, who meet periodically, in order to exchange information for the conservation of natural resources and the improvement of the quality of life of the people.

In this research trail of the Andean bear and the management of its habitat, has received the financial support of the Environmental Fund. Several agreements have been signed for the consolidation of strategic alliances with a monetary contribution of US $ 80,000 (eighty thousand US dollars) approximately.