Queen of Ecuador's Canopy, The
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In a male-dominated field of work, Primatologist Citlalli Morelos-Juarez is leading a conservation project in the Ecuadorian region of the Choco rainforest, one of the last coastal rainforests on Earth, a biodiversity hotspot within a biodiversity hotspot.
The key to her success has been embedding herself in the community with “anthropological immersion”, setting up a parabiologist programme that empowers local women to learn about sustainability for the benefit of their communities and for the forest's delicate ecosystem. This has led to her having "arguably done more than anybody to start changing this mindset and build a new relationship between many of the local population and their forest home”.
Yadira Giler and her husband Patricio Paredes are local residents who have been trained as parabiologists and have become integral to its success, their home is now a headquarters for the NGO they’ve established. We follow Dr. Citlalli and Yadira as they help protect the critically endangered brown-headed spider monkey, a keystone species, and the habitat of at least 7000 species of plants and animals, a quarter of which are found nowhere else on earth.
“Now that I’m more involved with the project I’m really thinking about the wellbeing of my children. This place doesn’t have a price, I want my children and future generations to see it as it is – it makes me proud to think I can help that to happen.” – Yadira Giler.
Patricio tells the story of one local man who, on seeing a large tree in the forest, used to make a mental calculation of how many planks of wood it would provide. Now that he is beginning to learn more about the forest’s species, when he sees a large tree he starts to think about how he could set up a camera trap in the canopy to record life in the treetops and find out what lives there.