Ecuador: An Overview from the REDD Countries Database
Ecuador is a relatively small country (about half the size of France or 283,561 km2) with an extremely varied geographical landscape and extraordinary biological diversity (MAE 2010a). Ecuador is considered to be one of the world’s megadiverse countries (Mittermeier et al. 1997) and the Amazonian region includes large tracts of intact natural forest of global conservation significance (Bass et al. 2010). Ecuador is divided into four distinct biogeographic regions: the Amazon, the Andes, the Pacific coastal plain and the Galapagos Islands. The vast majority of forest biomass - approximately 10 million hectares - is in the Amazon region (80%), with about 13% near the coast and the remaining 7% in the Andean highlands (Stern & Kernan 2011). The country has experienced major changes to its forest cover for many decades, mostly due to agricultural expansion and illegal logging. According to data from 2000, an estimated 198,000 ha of forest were being lost every year, equivalent to an annual deforestation rate of 1.5% (CLIRSEN 2003). Recent data from the Ministry of Environment, however, indicate that the national deforestation rate is significantly lower than the earlier figure and is closer to 61,765 ha per year (equivalent to 0.6% per year) (MAE 2011a). This figure, however, excludes deforestation in the humid north-western area of the country and alternative types of imagery are now being acquired to provide a more accurate figure for the national deforestation rate.