Originating at Antisana, Sincholagua and Cotopaxi volcanoes and the Andean foothills of the Llanganates National Park, the Napo River is born – one of the main rivers that flow into the Amazon. Along its 1,130 km course in Ecuador and Peru, the river crosses diverse ecosystems, from paramos on the snowy peaks to the humid-tropical forests of the Amazonian plain. The basin covers the provinces of Napo, Pichincha, Pastaza, Carchi, Sucumbíos and Orellana in Ecuador, and despite being home to ancestral indigenous peoples and an area of great natural wealth, it is still poorly explored.
Ecuador has been listed as having the greatest biological diversity per square kilometer and the Napo River basin is one of the places that highlights this abundance. The exceptional diversity of species of the Andes-Amazon region, together with species that cannot be found anywhere else (endemic species), makes the Napo River basin unique in the world. This area provides everything humans need to survive: water for drinking and irrigation, food supplied by rivers and forests, wood, medicinal plants, transportation and more. The benefits that we often cannot see, but on which we depend as a society, are numerous; local ecosystems regulate climate, purify air and water, absorb carbon dioxide (responsible for global warming), enable the production of electricity and are large natural pharmacies.
However, these valuable ecosystems have been experiencing environmental deterioration in recent decades. They are threatened by human activities such as agriculture, livestock farming, deforestation, oil and mining exploitation, wildlife hunting and climate change. We risk losing this biodiversity even before we have the chance to discover it, losing also the environmental services that it provides.
1Nugra Salazar, N., Benítez, M. B., Zarate, E., Fernandez de Cordova, J., & Celi, J. (2016). Sistemas Hidrográficos de la CUENCA DEL RÍO NAPO, ECUADOR. Recuperado de https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Fredy_Nugra3..
2García, M., D. Parra P. y P. Mena B. 2014. El país de la biodiversidad: Ecuador. Fundación Botánica de los Andes, Ministerio del Ambiente y Fundación EcoFondo. Quito. 318 pp.
3Jenkins, C. N., Pimm, S. L., & Joppa, L. N. (2013). Global patterns of terrestrial vertebrate diversity and conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(28), E2602–E2610. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1302251110