In 1976, following a land reform act, a group of local landless campesino (countryside) families bought the land which is now Santa Lucía Reserve. They formed an agricultural cooperative and began clearing areas of the forest to farm. Living and working in the forest was hard as the land is steep and far from markets, but for the first time these families had access to land and were able to make a living.
However land in the cloud forest quickly degrades once it has been cleared and in time, the environmental problems of farming in the forest became apparent. In addition, in 1988, the area was declared part of the Bosque Protector (Protected Forest) making hunting and clear-felling illegal, thus threatening the families' livelihoods. Members of the cooperative began to look for alternative ways of making a living from their land and in the late 1990s, identified ecotourism which would allow them to protect rather than clear the forest. In 1999 they began to build the eco-lodge with fallen wood from the forest; trails in the reserve were made and with much appreciated help from volunteers and other organisations such as Maquipucuna, Rainforest Concern UK, and Quest Overseas, the ecotourism project was born.
Santa Lucía Today
Today the mission of Santa Lucía is to:
'Create jobs and other benefits by means of a well run ecotourism business which allows us to conserve the forest and which respects the values of cooperative members and those of the community.'
Conservation - Despite preventative legislation, hunting and land invasion for agriculture is common in areas of Protected Forest in Ecuador. It is a mark of Santa Lucía's success that the local community respect the limits of our reserve and there is no hunting or clear-felling in our forest. In addition, through our reforestation programme, with support from volunteers we have planted native trees in twenty hectares of degraded land in the reserve.
Community - In an area of scarce paid employment, we provide jobs and a modest income for our members as well as other local people. Training ensures that local people work at all levels in the organisation and we are proud to say that Santa Lucía is truly a community-owned and community-run organisation. We strive to extend benefits to the wider community eg through our working practices, environmental education and our volunteer programme.
We believe that Santa Lucía offers a model, both locally and internationally, of what can be achieved in terms of conservation, sustainable employment and community development by a community-owned organisation.
Please see the following document for more information:
Reservations: (593-2) 215 7242 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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