PODOCARPUS NATIONAL PARK
Podocarpus National Park is located in Sothern Ecuador in the Loja and Zamora Chinchipe provinces. It covers an area of 360,000 acres (146.280 hectares); including Cloud Forest, high-altitude grasslands, a series of small Andean lakes (Lagunas del Compadre), and the tropical forest, with an elevation range between 960 a los 3.800 m.a.s.l.
The park is located where overlapping centers of endemism in the northern Andes and Tumbes (Terborgh and Winter, 1983; Best and Clark, in lit
Not only is Podocarpus important for protecting biological diversity, but it is also critical for the more than one million people who draw their water from four rivers with headwaters in the park.
The Podocarpus National Park area has one of the largest concentrations of bird species in Ecuador, with more than 650 registered species, although some experts believe that number could be as high as 800. Some of the most threatened birds in Ecuador have healthy populations in and around the park, such as the Jocotoco Antpitta, coppery-chested jacamar, bearded guan, Equatorial graytail and Peruvian antpitta.
More than 40 mammal species occur in the area, including the jaguar, wooly tapir, Andean bear, pudú (the smallest deer in the world), giant armadillo and Neotropical otter.
According to a Birdlife International study, the area is estimated to have more than 260 butterfly species and more than 1,200 moth species.
Podocarpus is a paradise for plants, with around 3,000 different species of vascular plants, many of which are endemic. The park was created in 1982 to shelter the largest remaining forest of three species of the tree genus Podocarpus. Commonly referred to as “Romerillo,” the Podocarpus is the only native conifer in the Ecuadorian Andes.
Worth noting an important fact, as is the statement by the UNESCO in 2017 as Biosphere Reserve Podocarpus – El Condor RBPC, in southern Ecuador, which has an area of 1.14 million hectares. The core areas RBPC is National Parks: Podocarpus and Yacuri and Reserve Mura Nunka Shuar, in the Cordillera del Condor, is considered one of the most important sites for the conservation of biodiversity in the world. Contains at least 4,000 species of vascular plants, more than 20% are endemic or limited to this area, including an abundance of orchids, bromeliads, ferns and hundreds of species of trees.