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Podocarpus National Park





Location: Loja and Zamora Chinchipe Provinces   Map

Area: 146,280 km²




Description of Podocarpus National Park

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.

To access 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





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.

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.