Helping to protect
and conserve unique watershed
resources in Ecuador
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Ecuador is a country about the size of Colorado, located along
the earth's equatorial band on the western edge of the South American continent
and bordered by Colombia to the North, and Peru to the South and East. About
16 million people live in Ecuador and 17 indigenous ethnic groups are represented.
The Andean Cordillera divides the country between the Pacific
Coast region and the Amazon region. This uplifted chain of snow-capped volcano
peaks gives rise to the varied climate zones which form distinct habitats
for the wealth of plants and animals found in the country.
Ecuador has the greatest biodiversity of any country in the
world in relation to its size. Over 15,000 types of vascular plants, more
than 1,600 species of birds, 1750 freshwater fish, 413 species of amphibians,
374 reptiles, and 324 mammals have been discovered in Ecuador. Close to 80%
of the biodiversity in the country is found in the Amazon region, which is
the least populated and undeveloped part of Ecuador.
The Ecuadorian Amazon receives up to 20 feet of rainfall each
year, and is also a main source and headwaters for the Amazon River - the
largest freshwater river system in the world. The cultural and biological
megadiversity represented in Ecuador make the country an important world heritage
site, as well as an exceptional destination for whitewater kayaking and rafting.
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More than five years of exploring and documenting whitewater
rivers in the Ecuadorian Andes, and observing the significant and growing
threats to watershed quality, led to the formation of the Ecuadorian Rivers
Institute in August, 2002.
The ERI is incorporated in the state of Colorado as a US non-profit
501c3 organization, and works to protect and conserve unique watershed resources
The ERI targets river drainages which are important for recreational
river use and advocates protecting river corridors for the benefit of maintaining
the high levels of biodiversity and realizing sustainable, tourism-based economies
in these areas.
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Our vision is to encourage sustainable natural resource management
by educating the people of Ecuador about the importance of protecting their
Local communities are empowered by direct connections to their
land and water resources to bring about positive change in their environment.
Through education, Ecuadorians are motivated toward economic
development that is sustainable and compatible with watershed conservation.
By increasing global awareness of watershed issues in Ecuador,
we hope to minimize the exploitation of the environment and the people who
depend upon it.
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CONSERVATION - The ERI advocates prioritizing recreational
river use as criteria in watershed management planning. The emphasis of conservation
efforts is to preserve riparian river corridors and recreational flows. Precedent-setting
cases have been made for mitigating recreational use with hydro development
projects on the Jondachi and Topo Rivers.
EDUCATION - Teaching the importance and benefits of preserving
watershed resources is the underlying theme. A community-based water quality
monitoring program began in January 2007, with the objective of establishing
baseline data for rivers and streams in the Upper Napo watershed. The ERI
organizes seminars and workshops to build up a conscience for conservation
at the local level.
EVENTS - The ERI organizes special events to raise awareness
of watershed issues with the local people, and introduce them to paddle sports
recreation. The annual Napo River Festival & Watershed Forum is a hallmark
example of using positive community interaction to promote environmental awareness.
The ERI is also present at fairs and public exhibitions with outreach activities
PADDLE SPORTS - This is a program to introduce Ecuadorians
to kayaking and rafting in hopes that they will become empowered to protect
their river resources through direct connections with those resources. Guides
and instructors volunteer their time to provide structured sessions. Participants
are charged a nominal fee to cover program expenses.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - The ERI tries to educate Ecuadorians
to make informed decisions about the management of their watershed resources.
The ERI promotes responsible tourism development to provide economic alternatives
for the people and help prioritize conservation of the natural resources.
Other main areas of interest are encouraging the implementation of municipal
sewage treatment and waste management systems, as well as household water
GENERAL OPERATING - The ERI currently operates by volunteer
effort and is sustained by personal funds and individual contributions. Covering
the expenses for transportation, rent, phones, internet, office supplies and
equipment is a constant challenge. With sufficient funding, the ERI hopes
to be able to hire Ecuadorian staff, expand its website, print quality publications,
and open a prominent office location and information center.
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CURRENT ACTION CAMPAIGNS
NAPO RIVER FESTIVAL - This is a unique intercultural
event to celebrate the Napo Watershed and its Importance to Everyone. Due
to the loss and deterioration of natural attractions in the Napo Watershed
in the past year, the 10th Annual Napo River Festival has been CANCELLED.
The ERI urges you to write to UNESCO and demand the highest standards of natural
resource management in the Sumaco Biosphere Reserve. We are prioritizing our
resources to address these problems.
HYDROPOWER REFORM - We are working to protect the interests
of recreational users with the proposed hydro development projects affecting
the Topo, Jondachi, Pucuno, Toachi & Quijos Rivers. We are lobbying for
the application of modern environmental flow standards based on natural flow
conditions and exposing the as well as designing hydro projects based on "median
flow" parameters, which do not accurately represent the actual conditions.
INSTREAM GRAVEL MINING - The ERI is working with the
Ecuadorian government to develop guidelines and policies to adequately control
instream gravel mining.
RECREATIONAL USE INVENTORY - We are developing a database
of flow requirements for recreational river use in Ecuador based on comparative
flow studies for watershed management planning.
COMMUNITY-BASED WATER QUALITY MONITORING - We are working
with the Aquatic Ecology Lab of the University of San Francisco in Quito
to develop baseline evaluations of water quality and ecological funcionality
of the rivers and streams in the Upper Napo Watershed. We are working with
local high school groups to gather precipitaion data, monitor dissolved oxygen,
temperature, pH, conductivity, turbidity levels, and survey macro-invertebrate
populations. The ERI is currently working to establish affiliations with other
partners to expand the scope and depth of the program.
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In the past few years, the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute has established
a presence as the leading river conservation organization in Ecuador and has
proven itself as an effective actor in watershed management issues. Here are
some of the key accomplishments that the ERI has made:
* Successful legal opposition to the hydro electric project
on the Topo River which provides exclusive riparian habitat for several endemic
plant species, including the critically threatened aquatic plant Myriocolea
irrorata, as well as river otters, torrent ducks, and Andean Cock-of-the-Rocks.
The Topo River is part of an ecological corridor which was designated a "Gift
to the Earth" by the WWF in 2002 for its outstanding biodiversity. The hydro
project is criticized for de-watering a significant part of the Topo River
which would negatively effect the fragile ecosystem and recreational use of
the river; it would not provide meaningful benefits for the local population;
and offers questionable financial returns; all of which indicate that the
negative impacts the project would create are greater than the benefits it
* The ERI purchased equipment and supplies for a community-based
water quality monitoring program in the Napo watershed to provide baseline
water quality data and increase awareness of stream degradation. The program,
which is based on the Adopt-A-Stream curriculum works with local high school
groups and university students.
* In August 2006, an agreement was signed with the watershed
management division of the Ecuadorian government to develop guidelines for
a recreational use inventory as an effort to include recreational use in watershed
* The ERI led a delegation of leaders of local watershed groups
formed in the 2006 from the Napo Watershed to the National Watershed Conference
in July 2006, and outlined and proposed a real-time hydrologic monitoring
network for the country utilizing satellite telemetry gaging stations.
* The ERI organized the 9th Annual Napo River Festival held
near Tena January 16-18, 2009, to celebrate the Napo watershed and its importance
to everyone. Over 3000 people attended over the weekend, the event received
extensive media coverage. The event has gained recognition as an official
event for the Napo Province by the local government authorities and Ministry
*The ERI made a strong push for watershed-based planning with
local and national government institutions throughout 2005. Nine community-based
watershed groups were established in strategic locations in the upper Napo
Watershed and diagnostic workshops were carried out in each area to establish
the opinions and ideas of the local population regarding watershed issues.
* The ERI proposed recreational and historical river use as
key components for watershed management criteria, and introduced a system
for designating rivers as protected areas at the Ecuadorian National Watershed
Conference in September, 2004.
* The ERI preserved the world-famous paddling section on the
Upper Jondachi River, by successfully negotiating with development planners
to relocate a hydro electric project to the lower section of the river, which
receives less use by paddlers. A new access will be created at the downstream
powerhouse location, and natural flow schedules have been arranged, which
may enhance recreational use on the lower section of the Jondachi River.
* The ERI presented a tourism development plan for the Quijos
River valley to local municipal governments in Spring, 2003, followed by an
orientation and familiarization to whitewater recreation for local government
leaders and community members by Rafting the Linares Gorge section of the
Quijos River. November 1-2, 2003, the ERI helped the town of El Chaco organize
the first Quijos Rafting & Kayaking Competition to help raise awareness of
watershed issues in the Quijos Valley. There were 48 local raft teams which
competed, with 6 participants on each team. The local governments are currently
using this plan to structure their development goals for the next 10 years.
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The ERI has a long-term commitment towards river conservation
in Ecuador, and needs your help to raise seed money to jumpstart the organization
towards a higher level of status and professional service. Funding sources
from foundation grants and endowments have been identified and grant applications
are being made, however this level of support will take considerable time
before it will materialize. Your generous contribution will ensure that current
initiatives are maintained and help sustain the ERI until other sources funding
can be secured.
TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donations to the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute
can be made at anytime with an online credit card transaction, direct
deposit, or mail deposit by following the instructions below. Thank
you for taking the time to prepare and send in your donation personally. Your
effort saves the ERI overhead and resources and allows your contribution to
have maximum effectiveness.
If you have any questions about your donation, please write
or call toll-free 1-888-353-9849 in the United States. Why not make a donation
HOW TO MAKE A DONATION:
1. Donate with a credit card using PayPal's secure online
You do not need a PayPal account to donate online. Go to Step
- OR -
2. Deposit cash or checks to account # 0034 7319 1323,
"Ecuadorian Rivers Institute" at any BANK OF AMERICA location. Go to Step
- OR -
3. Send a check or money order payable to the "Ecuadorian
Rivers Institute". Enclose a piece of paper that says "Mail deposit. Please
deposit to account # 0034 7319 1323, Ecuadorian Rivers Institute." Sign your
Name and put the Date. Mail to this address for direct deposit of your donation
into the ERI checking account and go to Step 4:
BANK OF AMERICA
Attn: Mail Teller
800 East Cherry St.
Columbia MO 65201
4. Send an e-mail message with your Name, Address and
Contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Write "CONTRIBUTION" in
the subject field. Please be sure to note any preferences for supporting specific
programs in your message. Current program areas and needs are: Conservation
- Education - Events - Paddle Sports - Sustainable Development - General Operating.
If no preference is given, the contribution will be applied to the area(s)
of highest priority.
5. You will receive a confirmation and a receipt
for your tax-deductible donation promptly. All personal information you provide
to the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute is strictly confidential.
Thank you for your support!
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CONTACT THE ERI
Ecuadorian Rivers Institute
Matt Terry - Executive Director
PO Box 2001
Ridgway CO 81432
Barrio Bellavista Baja
Av. Francisco de Orellana 707 y Tarqui, Piso 2
Tena - Napo - Ecuador
ECUADOR MAILING ADDRESS
PO BOX 17-07-9762