The past few years have brought many significant changes for FCAT – and 2022 was no exception. As we are solidly rounding the corner into 2023, we are proud to reflect on FCAT’s accomplishments and successes in 2022. Thank you for all of your support, in all of its forms, that helped make this possible.
We were thrilled to successfully expand our reserve with the exciting acquisition of a highly strategic property bordering La Laguna de Cube, a RAMSAR wetland internationally recognized for its importance to conservation. This takes us one step closer to our goal of increasing connectivity across our highly fragmented project area in northwest Ecuador. Many thanks to our partners American Bird Conservancy, March Conservation Fund, and the International Conservation Fund of Canada for their support.
In 2022, we hosted more than 250 students and researchers from over 20 different institutions, including four field courses from US and Ecuadorian universities, enabling ground breaking social and ecological research along with multiple hands-on field courses for university and high school students. This visitation reflects the emergence of the FCAT Reserve as a globally recognized center for research in the Chocó biogeographic zone, and the income we earn from this visitation plays an important part in FCAT’s economic sustainability.
One of our original FCATeros, Fernando Castillo, was recognized for his dedication to conservation by receiving the Local Conservation Hero award from the Disney Conservation Fund. Fernando’s remarkable journey includes earning a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and leading FCAT’s Community based projects. See the local television news story here. Huge congratulations to Fernando for this magnificent achievement!
In 2022, we made significant progress in our reforestation efforts. We have successfully planted thousands of seedlings as part of a landscape scale experiment to guide best practices in tropical reforestation. Despite an alarming drought year, over 90% of the seedlings we planted survived. The project not only helps to restore the local ecosystem but also serves as an educational opportunity for visiting students, researchers, and local communities. With your help, we were awarded a grant from the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) to help support this work.
In 2022, we kicked off Club Nueva Generación, a local youth environmental club that provides young people with the opportunity to learn about conservation and take an active role in protecting their environment. This project, which as made possible by the generous assistance of Doug and Shiela Rogers and the International Conservation Fund of Canada, has had a tremendous impact on youths in the area. Over one dozen residents between the ages of 13 – 22, mainly women, have received intensive training in a range of environmental theories and methods, preparing them for careers and further educational advancement.
Our Women’s Arts Cooperative also made several significant advances. We held our first art gallery opening in New Orleans – ‘Art of the Chocó’ – that enabled members of our Women’s printmaking workshop to sell their crafts internationally and celebrate the natural beauty of their home. Also, local women participants led several workshops for women in other communities as well as for visitors, spreading knowledge and providing an additional alternative income stream.This project is supported by the USFWS NMBCA program.
Research at the FCAT reserve continues to pick up steam! FCAT and colleagues published three new peer-reviewed publications on the impacts of forest fragmentation on hummingbirds (Huh et al. 2023), the drivers of pollen dispersal in (Diaz-Martin et al. 2023), and the role of forest age in driving patterns of diversity in palm communities (Leuder et al. 2022). You can find PDFs of all of FCAT’s research here: https://fcat-ecuador.org/research/
We also had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) in Cartagena, Colombia and the annual meeting of ornithologists in Ecuador (REO VII) in Cuenca, Ecuador. Be on the lookout for our stand at future conferences!
We gave a hearty welcome to Ailin Blasco and Elizabeth Vásquez, who both joined our team in 2022, bringing fresh perspectives, new skills, and new ideas. In November, we held a FCAT team retreat, where we were able to come together to reflect on the history and future of FCAT. We have big plans on the horizon, so stay tuned!
As we look back on the past year, we are grateful for your support and the progress that we have been able to make as a result. We wish you all a happy and healthy 2023, and hope to see you at the FCAT Reserve!
The FCAT Team