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Fundación Maquipucuna is an Ecuadorian non-governmental conservation non-profit created in 1988. Historically, we have worked throughout Ecuador. Now we are focused on the Maquipucuna Andean Bear Reserve. Together with local communities and governments we have created the Chocó Andino Biosphere Reserve.

Over the last 33 years we have focused our attention on conserving the remaining unprotected forests in Ecuador’s most biodiverse regions through strategic land purchases and by helping local communities find economic alternatives to thrive in harmony with nature.


The Chocó Andean tropical forests are protected by local communities who live in harmony with nature and create wealth through mechanisms enabled through the fair valuation of the environmental services of the forests they protect.

The Chocó-Andino Biosphere Reserve

​Maquipucuna is located in the Chocó Andean Corridor in Northwest Ecuador, at the ecotone of the Chocó and Tropical Andean forests. Maquipucuna was the first privately protected area of the region and now is the core of the Chocó Andino Biosphere Reserve. Since 1992, Maquipucuna has promoted the establishment of the Chocó Andean Corridor. Since 2007, Fundación Maquipucuna made the strategic decision of focusing its efforts entirely on the conservation of this region, which as a result has received UNESCO's Biosphere Reserve designation. 


Maquipucuna was instrumental in the creation of the Protected Forest of Los Cedros del Río Tigre, which later became part of the Gran Sumaco Biosphere Reserve in Northeast Ecuador. In Southeast Ecuador, Maquipucuna's Proyecto Agroforestal Zamora (PAZ) carried out between 1989 and 2002, helped mitigate the impacts of colonization on the northeast side of the Podocarpus National Park through the promotion of  high quality coffee cultivated in agroforestry systems, cheese and jams cottage industries, the creation of new protected forests, environmental education programs, creating infrastructure for attaining drinking water for the local communities, coupled with participatory community forestry projects.​ The outcomes of these projects and the environmental awareness created cemented the establishment of the Podocarpus - El Condor Biosphere Reserve.

The Upper-Amazon Region

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The foundation purchases high biodiversity forest land directly or enables local communities to purchase and manage land. Maquipucuna was the first NGO to purchas land for conservation. This program enabled the creation of the Maquipucuna Reserve, the Tahuallullo farm & lodge of the Yunguilla Community, the Santa Lucía Cooperative Ecolodge and supported the Comuna Río Santiago Cayapas to secure communal property rights. The Maquipucuna reserve is comprised of fifteen properties that were purchased or obtained though conservation agreements. 

In Ecuador,  land tenure alone does not guarantee the protection of a property, therefore effective forest protection entails patrolling and legal expenses to dissuade and keep away squatters and illegal institutionalized land scammers.

The Foundation is constantly raising funds to create an endowment for long term protection and additional land purchases. Ongoing activities requiring funds include updating the registry of the land parcels that make up the Reserve in the cadastre of the city of Quito, buying parcels of land to protect Spectacled bear's key migration routes, and covering legal expenses to prevent land invasions. Its proximity to Quito signifies a major threat to its conservation as constantly there are people from the city who make a living by organizing land invasions.

If you would like to donate so that we can continue our work of conservation in this region, please visit our donate page.

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Community-Based Purposeful Work

Local people play an integral role in conservation, hence setting up protected areas in isolation is insufficient to protect biodiversity. Therefore, where we have worked, we have developed a complex, multiscale, multifaceted conservation plan that integrates research, education, local community development, sustainable ecotourism, and policymaking.

Over the years, Maquipucuna has impacted more than 1,000 families and has been involved in many community development and ecotourism projects causing a positive impact.



Yunguilla contains 60 families that own 6,400 acres of land to the east of Maquipucuna. Back in the early 90s the communities unsustainable farming practices threatened the integrity of the area as well as the Maquipucuna reserve.

Joining forces in 1995 to tackle projects such as reforestation and soil conservation it was until 1997 that Maquipucuna helped Yunguilla initiate its ecotourism venture. 


Maquipucuna and the community raised the funds needed to develop a property for the community, which is now the community hostel, as well as the headquarters of a community run corporation that produces orchids, cheese, jams and crafts.  Maquipucuna helped Yunguilla until the community had the capacity to run its projects independently.  

Today, thanks to the vision and the support of Maquipucuna, and the trust and great leadership and social fabric of the community, Yunguilla has raised to become a model and independent community committed to sustainable development.


The Andean Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is an endangered bear endemic to South America. These normally solitary bears visit Maquipucuna every year to feed on the Aguacatillo fruit where they can be easily seen by visitors between August and October. 


Currently there ongoing research to identify individuals and study their behavior within the reserve.



Maquipucuna welcomes students and  researchers from all over the world from schools and institutes such as UC Davis, The University of Georgia, Cornell, among others. 

The research carried out at the reserve not only allows us better understanding of how the natural world works but how we can better protect it for the benefit of our community and selves.

We're always discovering something new at Maquipucuna and we have diverse research interests. 


We've conducted several flora and fauna surveys, examined animal nutrition, inspected soil composition, recorded the biology of our Andean Spectacled Bears, and explored different sustanible and organic farming practices.


We're always looking for passionate researchers to use Maquipucuna as a study site. The scientific station is ideal for visiting researchers and is fully equipped with bathrooms, a kitchenette, and an ideal work space. 

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