Mangrove forests and salt marshes provide food and
a home for fish, shellfish, mollusks, wildfowl and threatened marine
mammals; and are also important for stabilizing the shoreline from
Over the past several decades, the mangrove forests
have increasingly diminished as a result of a variety of human activities.
Today, mangrove forests are among the most threatened habitats in
the world. The rapidly expanding industrial shrimp farming industry
is one of the direct causes of the deforestation of Ecuador's mangroves.
In recent years, 207,000 hectares of lush mangrove forests have been
cleared to make room for artificial shrimp ponds. (From The Ecuadorian
National Coordination for the Defense of Mangroves)
The megadiverse cloud forest is located
on the slopes of Ecuador's Andes mountains and range in altitude from
1000 to 2500 meters. The vegetation is characterized by trees that
range from 9 to 25 meters high. The most well known plants of this
forest are guandera, quishuar and wild avocado. Other plant species
of this forest are orchids, lycopodia, lichens, ferns, moss, bromeliads,
In the inter-Andean valleys the original
vegetation has unfortunately been replaced by cultivation and constructions
because the majority of the big towns and cities are located in these
valleys. The original vegetation is characterized by algarrobos, podocarpus,
epiphytes, black cabuyo, guarango, white leaf and chamano.
The paramo (alpine tundra) contains
scrubland, herbaceous vegetation and woody shrubs, frailejones, chuquiraguas,
wild rosemary and valerian.