Due to high rates of deforestation and high human pressures, Ecuadorian coastal habitats, especially the north coast, have registered 16% of the net loss of native forest area between 2016 and 2018, therefore, should be considered a priority for conservation (Sierra, R., 2020). The north coast of Manabí is a key migratory route for several endangered species, especially in a scenario of climate change where species move in response to new climatic conditions.
Additionally, this deforestation has promoted droughts that are recurrent in the sector, severely affecting local communities. These threats have led the Decentralized Autonomous Governments of the Jama, Pedernales, San Vicente, Sucre and Chone counties to promote various actions in favor of conservation, such as the creation of Conservation and Sustainable Use Areas (ACUS), which integrates the forest conservation, habitat restoration through reforestation and forest regeneration, promotion of sustainable livelihoods, and implementation of workshops and environmental education for local communities.
Through the ACUS project, we had been able to make local decision-makers internalize that the province of Manabí is the only province in Ecuador that does not receive water from the Andes, therefore Manabí produces its own water. In this sense, the mayors of the four cantons were made aware of this serious situation and how to promote the conservation of water sources through the conservation of forests.
This territory represents the largest county conservation and sustainable use area on the coast of Ecuador. The ACUS of the Northwest of Manabí is established as the first conservation area in Ecuador at the level of local municipalities that protects coastal areas.
Recognizing that Ecuador is one of the first countries at the international level to access climate financing through the results-based payment scheme, and being clear that there is a national policy to conserve forests and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the local spaces of the Coast, there are various efforts to conserve the last remnants of forest in the Northwest of Manabí. Additionally, this instrument establishes the necessary procedures that allow the Ministry of the Environment as a national authority to work in coordination with the GADs and support NGOs, as well as with local communities. Another important factor is to define the monitoring and follow-up methods to be followed in order to promote the long-term care of the last remnants of the Manabí forest.
This year, the efforts to create the Conservation and Sustainable Use Areas have been recognized at the national level by the Payment for Performance Project of Proamazonia - Sustainable Environmental Investment Fund and UNDP. It is an innovative mechanism that consists of the delivery of economic incentives to the Decentralized Autonomous Governments (GAD) or Associations, once they have met the goals established for the management of their Conservation and Sustainable Use Areas (ACUS).
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