People in the word are interconnected now more than ever, and La Hesperia is not the exception. Our work towards sustainable development and conservation efforts will not be possible without our family, collaborators, interns, volunteers, researchers, visitors and partner organization; therefore, our team is big, dynamic and amazing. Be part of it!
La Hesperia has formed a number of affiliations with various foundations and organizations over the years to receive funding for conservation and educational projects.
La Hesperia’s journey has been long and winding, and it is certainly not over. The reserve continues to evolve to ensure the protection of the cloud forest and the perpetuation of sustainable living.
After all, as we often say here at La Hesperia, conservation has, and always will be, a shared responsibility.
La Hesperia as a Reserve
In 1988, the decision was made to protect La Hesperia’s forest as a reserve for the good of the wildlife and the benefit of the world.
In 1992, the first management plan was written and students all around the world began joining us in our our fight against deforestation.
In 1950, Ecuador was born as a republic. As time passed, the borders of La Hesperia were reduced in size and much of its forest was lost to development.
In 1970, the Ecuadorian government passed a law stating that any Ecuadorian family that lived on a plot of land for five years and could prove that they were working on it could have the property title. A huge amount of forest was destroyed due to deforestation and farming because of this law, and La Hesperia lost half of its land.
At this time the word “conservation” had not manifested as an actual environmental concept in Ecuador. The first Ecuadorian conservation NGO was not founded until 1978.
The Yumbos fell into decline due to a combination
of Spanish colonization and lethal diseases such as smallpox and measles that the conquistadores brought with them from Europe.
By colonial times, the property of La Hesperia covered a tremendous area of land (from Aloag to Santo Domingo), and was owned by the Marquesa de Solanda, wife of the Mariscal of Ayacucho Antonio Jose de Sucre, a close friend and comrade in arms of Simon Bolivar (responsible for the independence of Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Bolivia). The Marquesa did not develop the land where La Hesperia is now located, due to its harsh environment and lack of roads.
Expansion of the Inca Empire
The discovery of many pieces of ancient pottery suggests that perhaps there was an ancient trade centre here.
At the time of the expansion of the Inca Empire, the Incas used the paths for commercial purposes. Their chasquis (messengers) ran along these paths daily with fresh fish for the Inca Atahualpa. To this day, there could still be a plethora of evidence about the anthropogenic history of the ancient inhabitants hidden within the lush, verdant forest.
According to experts and archaeological records, we know that the Yumbos lived in this area more than 500 years ago, before the expansion of the Inca Empire in the 1400s. They had close links with the Quito native tribes.
They used a network of culuncos (commercial routes) that connected various parts of Yumbo country with the Sierra and the Coast. Such culuncos can be seen in the higher elevations of La Hesperia.