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THE CHOCO RAIN FOREST, a place to save and protect.

"My dream is to live in a world in harmony with Nature, to leave clean water and pure air to the future generations; to use only what we need and to return ten times what we use, to bury consumerism and live in a sustainable way; to spend the rest of my life contemplating the wonderful world of Nature without worrying about how long that beauty will last."
Raul Nieto

Since 1989, Itapoa has been doing research and conservation in the Bio Geographical Region of the Choco on the Northwest of South America along the Pacific coast, from the south of Panama to the north of Ecuador and from sea level to the western slopes of the Andes. The Choco is one of the most bio diverse areas of the world together with a very high number of endemic species. (An endemic species is one that has evolved within a restricted area - a unique species that can be found only in that geographical location). There are more than 11,000 plants, of which 2,700 are endemic, have been listed. The fauna is also particularly rich. So far, 285 mammal species (11 endemic), 890 bird species (110 endemic), 327 reptile species (98 endemic), 203 amphibian species (30 endemic) and 251 freshwater fish species (115 endemic) have been identified. Unfortunately, more than 70 % of the Choco had been destroyed putting it in the category of a HOTSPOT.
Itapoa, as part of the conservation effort, has developed a unique technique of restoring deforested areas, by helping pioneer groups of plants to grow by themselves, bringing back nutrients and moisture to the place, therefore, recreating microclimates that where lost due to the deforestation, where primary forest trees can grow easily under the protection of the pioneer ones, which later will be succeeded by the primary ones.

The Choco it is not only a bio diverse region, it is also multicultural and unique, with more than 20 ethnic groups from Panama to Ecuador, together with African descendant groups. Again, Itapoa has been pioneer in developing a strategy of helping the locals to grow cacao trees in a sustainable manner in previously deforested areas and in this was improving their economies. Together with the knowledge they acquire to grow cacao, they learn about the importance of their forest, empowering them of the fact that the live in one of the most beautiful regions of the world. Ones they produce cacao, we help them find direct markets in Europe, North America or local ones, where they get better prices to their commitment to protect their surroundings.
Besides helping the people to grow cacao, we have concluded that preserving their cultural roots it important for the conservation of the region. If they lose their forest, there is nothing to sing to or make their instruments from. Therefore, we have paired CULTURE and COSERVATION, creating a school of Traditional Music from the Region in Ecuador and working together with renowned musicians from the region in Colombia.

We also train and educate concerned individuals and future field biologists who come to volunteer with us from all over the world. We want everyone to feel as passionate about preserving rainforests as we do and to help in any way they can.

Itapoa's founder Raul Nieto also give talks in the US and Europe about the future of the Rainforest, focusing mainly in the bio diversity of the region and the destruction occurring in the last 50 years.  The Chocó has been exploited by forestry companies. Tropical rainforest have an impressive number of tree species, particularly, sought after for their diverse properties, its wood is used for furniture, floorboards, sculptures, plywood, posts for black pepper plantations, resin for rubber, tourist souvenirs and one of the last human inventions Palm Oil, the ultimate assassin of the jungle. So we can have NUTELLA IN OUR PLATES, BIODIESEL IN OUR CARS AND MAKE UP IN OUR FACES.

None. Biodiesel, and specifically the African Palm plantations used to grow palm oil for biodiesel, not only kills the wildlife and endemic plant life of the area it threatens carbon absorption, oxygen production and water production which is critical for our planet.
To compare:

-One hectare of forest has approximately 2500 trees and other plants, along with the animals living there. One hectare of African Palm to produce oil for biodiesel has only 157 palm trees.

-One hectare of mainly broad leaf forest trees can absorb over one thousand TONS of CO2 a year; it releases tons of Oxygen. Each tree can produce $46,000 dollars of water every 50 years, plus the benefit of obtaining food. Also there is the chance of finding plants that might be cures for diseases that affect millions of people throughout the world.

-One hectare of African palm absorbs less than 10% of CO2 and produces less than 10% oxygen compared to the hectare of natural rainforest. African Palm plantation pollutes water, causes desertification within 50 years and kills every form of life. It takes away the land from the local people and releases millions of tons of Carbon to the atmosphere when the forest is cut down.

-The only benefit of biodiesel is MONEY for selfish and short minded individuals who know fossil fuels are running out and who want a new fast money making business, compared to using other alternative energies.

Itapoa Project has 2 areas of influence, one in Ecuador and the other one in Colombia:

In Ecuador we are in Puerto Quito and Canande Region in Esmeraldas
In Colombia we are in Timbiqui Cauca.
Our Products are sold in Puerto Lopez- Ecuador and Cali – Colombia

In order to fund our project we offer different alternatives to help:

Trips to our reserves.
Buy our products
Stay at our hostel in Puerto Lopez
Personalized expeditions in Colombia and Ecuador
Volunteer or study at our reserves

Malecon Julio Izurieta  - Puerto Lopez- Manabi
Carrera 6ta 3-30 Barrio San Antonio, - Cali  Valle de Cauca
English, Spanish and Portuguese spoken
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