Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

New York Project

Spatial Risk Mapping: A Tool to Plan and Implement Human- Andean Bear Conflict Mitigation in Ecuador

August 2018 - May 2024


Participating Agencies

  • International Association for Bear Research and Management

The Chocó-Andean region of Ecuador lies at the convergence of two of the world’s top 25 biodiversity hotspots and is home to more endemic species than any other hotspot on Earth. Unfortunately, half of this region has been deforested and the expansion of agriculture, development, and recently granted mining concessions threatens remaining forest. Social-ecological systems are linked systems of people and nature, emphasizing that humans must be seen as a part of, not apart from, nature. We will use a socio-ecological system approach and generate alternative strategies to guide the design of public policies that can help communities to cope with the effects of environmental changes. Specific objectives include, 1) Assess the level of knowledge and perception of local communities about the state of their natural resources and the benefits that they obtain from them, 2) Identify strategies and preferences that local communities use for their subsistence (land uses: livestock, agriculture, ecotourism, recreation, ecotourism, conservation) 3) Assess the social capacity of communities to engage in conservation activities, 4) Understand the motivations that influence land use and development decisions, 5) Engage community members in the co-development of a tool to allow growing productive and sustainable agricultural crops in landscapes inhabited by Andean bears, and 6) Develop a spatial risk/benefit map that identifies areas with a high potential for agricultural crop damage by Andean bears. This will serve as a decision-making tool to preemptively avoid conflict with Andean bears and to identify areas for management interventions (e.g., sustainable crop management practices).