Sisimac Duchicela 2017 Field Report
2017 CLAG PhD Field Study Award Report:
Sisimac Duchicela, Department of Geography and the Environment, UT-Austin.
Project: Ecological Restoration as a Means for Alternative Development in the Ecuadorian Andes Northwest Andean mountain range, Ecuador.
I aim to understand the challenges of ecological restoration in the Andes, the thresholds where ecological restoration is chosen versus other forms of land use, and to test ecological frameworks in a restoration scenario in Andean landscapes. I obtained local guidance from a Peruvian/Ecuadorian NGO called Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion (CONDESAN), which combines methods in natural, social and GIS sciences in their projects to understand land use change and inform policy.
Restoration in the high Andes presents several challenges, beginning with the heterogeneity of not only the biophysical factors, such as soil type and amount of radiation but also of socioeconomic factors and land tenure affecting the way land is being used. The main goal of restoration in all the areas visited in some way or another focused on increasing the adaptability for local people to ensure economic resources by mitigating effects of climate change and environmental degradation. A secondary goal in Andean restoration is to ensure ecosystem functioning and for biodiversity conservation.
For this fieldwork, I stayed two months in Ecuador and one week in Peru. From this exploration, I have defined two study sites, Intillacta, Pichincha in Ecuador and the three communities in the Huancavelica department in Peru. These two sites will allow me to understand restoration incentives and to compare these incentives internationally.
Please find the full report here.