Fundación Cordillera Tropical wins prestigious international sustainability award
(25 June 2015) Fundación Cordillera Tropical (FCT) has won the 2015 National Energy Globe Award for Ecuador in recognition of its commitment to creating sustainable livelihoods in the southern Ecuadorian Andes. Energy Globe, the world award for sustainability, recognized FCT's program to promote pasture restoration on private land bordering Sangay National Park as a strategy for ensuring a sustainable future.
This year alone Energy Globe received more than 1,500 projects from around the world that proposed sustainable solutions to entrenched environmental problems. The National Energy Globe Award recognized Fundación Cordillera Tropical for its program to address one of Ecuador's most enduring environmental challenges: the persistent advance of the agricultural and ranching frontier into globally important and biologically diverse tropical forests.
The innovation is to restore productivity to low-yielding grass pastures by integrating native forage, fruit, and timber trees. Forage trees provide better overall nutritional benefit to cows than grass pastures, suggesting that planting trees is a better economic investment than clearing forest for new pastures. The trees also slow the loss of fertile topsoil; sequester atmospheric carbon in their leaves, branches, and roots; and provide habitat for local wildlife.
Initiated in 2014, the program has established 10 demonstration parcels with private landowners at elevations between 2,400 -2,800 meters in the buffer zone of Ecuador´s fourth largest national park, Sangay. In 2015, the program aims to double its efforts and create ten additional parcels. In exchange for a commitment of no new deforestation, all participants receive training, support, and materials.
¨When we recognize ranching as a traditional way of life in the Ecuadorian Andes since the Spanish conquest, promoting sustainability must first fit within the prevailing cultural paradigm, and furthermore address ecological and restoration goals. Silvopastoral systems, those which incorporate trees into established grass pastures, ensure that rural families can continue to earn a dignified income while also contributing to a more sustainable planet,¨ comments Catherine Schloegel, Executive Director of Fundación Cordillera Tropical.
Since 1999, the Energy Globe Award presented in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) seeks to identify creative solutions to deep-rooted environmental challenges. In 2015, it recognized projects from 177 countries for their sustainable innovations.