Ecologi Update: Restoring Andean Forests

It’s time for our latest Ecologi update, to see what environmental projects we’re continuing to support. Ecologi has announced exciting new projects in South America, to protect and restore Andean forests across several countries, including Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. The projects centre around the Andes mountain range.

 

The Andes

The Andes mountain range runs along the western edge of South America. Starting in Venezuela in the north, the Andean mountains stretch through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile, ending in Argentina at the very south of the continent. 

It’s the longest mountain range in the world above sea level, and also the highest mountain range outside of Asia. Due to its incredible length, the Andes range passes through several climates and is often divided into the Tropical Andres, Dry Andes, and Wet Andes, and it’s the Tropical Andes that pass through the countries in the northern half of the continent.  

Many of the countries this mountain range passes through are amongst the most biodiverse in the world: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela have all been identified as “megadiverse” countries, home to huge numbers of endemic species, and Bolivia regularly makes the top rankings as well. It’s perhaps no surprise, as all of these countries surround the Amazon rainforest. There’s another type of forest, however, that’s vital to the biodiversity of these South American countries: Polylepis forest.

 

What are Polylepis forests?

One of the most important habitats in the world in terms of biodiversity and people supported, Polylepis forests grow at high altitudes and in extreme weather. These forests are vital to guarantee the water source for millions of people, as well as protecting them from climate extremes and preventing soil erosion and flooding. The forests are also home to an abundance of wildlife.

If you haven’t heard of Polylepis trees before, there’s a reason for it: they don’t grow anywhere else in the world, and are endemic to the mid- and high-elevation regions of the Tropical Andes. 

These trees and their root systems slow down the movement of glacial meltwater, controlling its release into streams and rivers throughout the year. As the Polylepis trees grow at such high altitudes, they also harvest precipitation from the clouds (effectively combing through the clouds to get the moisture!) which creates permanent streams.

Glacial meltwater is a key source of water for both mountainous areas and lowland towns and villages, so Polylepis forests are vital to the survival of these areas, but they’ve been threatened by deforestation for some time. This is where Ecologi comes in.

 

The Projects

Ecologi is undertaking projects in different countries along the Andes range, including three within the Tropical Andes, working together with planting partner GFG: Global Forest Generation. 

GFG works with local organisations who, in turn, work closely with local communities to plant new trees and protect the remaining forests. Over the next 2 years, Ecologi will fund the planting of 300,000 trees in the Andes mountains as part of a project called Acción Andina. These trees will be planted across 16 different sites, in 5 different countries. 

You can read more information about these projects on Ecologi’s project page at the links below:

  • Restoring Andean Polylepis forests in Peru
  • Restoring Polylepis forests in the Ecuadorian Andes
  • Protecting and restoring Andean forests in Bolivia
  • Restoring Andean forests in Argentina


  • 17/05/2022 by NatuTeam

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