Podocarpus National Park is a protected area located in
Loja and Zamora Chinchipe Provinces in Ecuador.
Podocarpus National Park
covers an area of 146,280 sq km. It extends over 146,280
hectares or 1,468.8 km², in the two foothills of the Eastern
Cordillera de Los Andes to the Nangaritza, Numbala and Loyola river
basins. About 85% of the park is in the province of Zamora Chinchipe
and about 15% in the province of Loja.
The national park was
established in order to protect the largest forest of romerillos in
the country, composed of three species of the genus Podocarpus, the
only conifer native to Ecuador.
A unique biological
environment has been developed within the park, especially
representing the unique birdlife in the area. The Podocarpus
National Park houses a complex of more than 100 lagoons, one of the
best known are the Lagunas del Compadre. There are also waterfalls,
canyons and various kinds of mammals and plants.
the park there are two main entrances corresponding to its
biogeographic zones, the one is in the Cajanuma Sector in the high
biogeographic zone. The other is in the Bombuscaro Sector,
corresponding to the Bombuscaro River in the low biogeographic zone.
In addition there are two alternative accesses in the high
biogeographic zone of the province of Zamora Chinchipe, the one is
in the Romerillos Sector, corresponding to the Jamboé River and
another less known entering the Cerro Toledo from the
Yangana-Valladolid route, the Cajanuma being the more known
Flora The park has an exceptional flora, it has
been considered the Botanical Garden of America because it is
located in the territory where the endemism centers of the Northern
Andes and Tumbes overlap.
In its ecosystems of humid montane
and low montane forests, located in the Nudo de Sabanilla, as well
as the very humid montane and premontane forests in the Numbala
river basin, there are more than 4,000 species of plants among which
trees that can stand out measure up to 40 meters like the romerillo,
which is named after the park, and many other valuable ones such as
the cascarilla, called the national tree of Ecuador, and an infinite
variety of orchids.
There are specific differences between
the vegetation of the moors of the area and the north of the
country, basically because they are lower, on the mountain ridges
and in the transition zone of a true moor that does not develop
fully, due to the low elevation of the terrain. Among the main
species found in the region are chilca, laurel, aguacolla, uvilla,
black elder, pumamaqui, sapan, myrtle, cashoco, alder, acacia, sage,
white guato, cedar, higuerilla, walnut, yumbingue and cannelloni.
Wildlife There are more than 560 species of birds that are
registered in the park. This represents 40% of the birds of Ecuador
and 6% of world birds. For this reason, it is noted as an important
area for the conservation of the many birds found in the world.There
are also 46 species of mammals including the spectacled bear
(Tremarctos ornatus), Andean tapir (Tapirus pinchaque), common
marsupial mouse (Caenolestes fuliginosus), stinky fox (Conepatus
semistriatus), dwarf deer (Pudu mephistophiles), among others.
Endangered species Romeri, cascarilla, cedar and pituca trees
are in danger of extinction; birds like the trogón, turkey of the
mount, parrot of golden cheeks and the cock of the rock; and mammals
like the spectacled bear, danta, tigrillo, deer and moor wolf.