Ecuadorian Rivers Institute


Helping to protect

and conserve unique watershed

resources in Ecuador



Please click on the links to the right for an overview of the ERI.

For more information, please contact:

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Photos by Matt Terry unless otherwise noted
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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 in Ecuador.

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 watersheds.

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 and presentations.

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 treatment solutions.

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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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 would deliver.

* 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 management planning.

* 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 of Tourism.

*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 to or call toll-free 1-888-353-9849 in the United States. Why not make a donation right now?


1. Donate with a credit card using PayPal's secure online transaction system:

You do not need a PayPal account to donate online. Go to Step 4.

- OR -

2. Deposit cash or checks to account # 0034 7319 1323, "Ecuadorian Rivers Institute" at any BANK OF AMERICA location. Go to Step 4.

- 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:

Attn: Mail Teller
800 East Cherry St.
Columbia MO 65201
Tel: 573.876.6220

4. Send an e-mail message with your Name, Address and Contact information to 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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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


PO BOX 17-07-9762
Quito, Ecuador