Andean Orchid Conservation and the Role of Private Lands: A Case Study from Ecuado


conservation easement
El Pahuma

How to Cite

Meisel, J. E., & Woodward, C. L. (2005). Andean Orchid Conservation and the Role of Private Lands: A Case Study from Ecuado. Selbyana, 26(1/2), 49–57. Retrieved from


Orchids represent ca. 10% of the world's flowering plant species, and their diversity and endemism reach their maximum in the montane forests of the Andes. In Ecuador, nearly 80% of the 700 orchid species endemic to the country are found at 300–3000 m elevation. Microclimatic specialization and geographic isolation of elevational bands in montane regions have favored orchid speciation and the evolution of restricted-range species. With 75% of montane forests destroyed, and only 15% of species protected within existing reserves, fully a third of Ecuador's endemic orchid species are at risk of extinction. Private reserves in the Andes can play a major role in the conservation of orchids. After outlining existing legal mechanisms for conservation of habitat on private lands, we present a case study of the application of a conservation easement to the protection of the El Pahuma Orchid Reserve in the Ecuadorian Andes. Las orquídeas representan aproximadamente 10% de la flora mundial y su diversidad y endemismo máximo es en los bosques montanos de los Andes. En el Ecuador, casi 80% de las 700 especies endémicas al país se encuentran entre 300 y 3000 m. Especialización microclimática y aislamiento geográfica de los niveles de altura han favorecido la especiación y la evolución de especies de rangos restringidos. Con la destrucción de 75% de los bosques montanos y solo 15% de las especies protegidas en las reservas existentes, la tercera parte de las orquídeas endémicas del Ecuador están en peligro de extinción. Las reservas privadas en los Andes pueden tomar un rol importante para la conservación de orquídeas. En el presente, ofrecimos un perfil de los mecanismos legales existentes para conservar hábitats en tierras privadas y presentamos un estudio del caso de la aplicación de una servidumbre ecológica para la protección de la Reserva Orquideológica El Pahuma en los Andes del Ecuador.


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