Ecuador’s Ministry of the Environment is making plans to extend the protected area status beyond the boundaries of the Cajas National Park. A final decision is awaiting the development of a flora and fauna inventory currently being taken, the ministry says.
According to Silvio Cabrera, spokesman for the ministry, the areas being considered for protected status are the upper basin of the Machángara River, the Curiquingue-Gallo Cantana watershed and the Mazán páramo.
“These areas include animals and plants that are endangered and they deserve special protections,” Cabrera says. “In addition to the páramo wolf and condors, there are 17 species of amphibians that are found nowhere else in the world. When we make our designation, these areas will be off limits to mining and agricultural activities.”
The city of Cuenca has been pushing for the protected designation for several years since part of its watershed is the Machángara River basin.
Although the land being considered is privately owned, it would be opened for hiking and other non-invasive human activities.
Altogether, the area under review consists of almost 18,500 hectares. The adjacent Cajas National Park comprises 28,800 hectares.