Botanical inventory and conservation assessment of Siempre Verde Reserve, Imbabura Province, Ecuador


  • Ronald L. Jones Eastern Kentucky University
  • Álvaro J. Pérez Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador
  • Alex Reynolds The Lovett School
  • Grady L. Webster†



Siempre Verde Reserve is located in Imbabura Province, Ecuador, in the northwestern Andes within the “Chocó-Andean Corridor” and occupies an area of 504 ha, ranging in elevation from about 2300 to 3500 m. It is privately owned by the Lovett School, originally purchased in 1992 to construct a research center and to protect one of the few remaining tracts of undisturbed cloud forest in the region. It was legally established as a “bosque protector” by the Ecuadorian government in 1994. A study was initiated in April, 2016, to inventory the flora and assess the conservation value of the site by collecting botanical specimens and by evaluating prior and on-going studies on the flora and fauna of the site. The resulting study documents 408 taxa of vascular plants, including 42 pteridophytes, 1 gymnosperm, and 365 angiosperms. Of the angiosperms, 47 are Monocots, 24 are Magnoliids and Chloranthales, and 294 are Eudicots. Included in the list are 40 taxa endemic to Ecuador and 97 taxa on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Previous and on-going studies indicate a high diversity of orchids, epiphytes, and a rich fauna, including many plant-animal associations involving bats, birds, and insects. Some of Ecuador’s most charismatic and threatened animals are known from Siempre Verde, including the spectacled bear, the puma, the olinguito, and at least nine species of bats. Much of the lower elevations along the river and around the building sites have been highly disturbed, but the higher elevations are still occupied by mature forest, with “elfin” forest at the higher sites. In comparisons with the tree and shrub species of other selected cloud forest studies in the region it was found that Siempre Verde shares 41 to 68% of the genera and 14 to 28% of the species for the lower montane zone, and 73 to 87% of the genera and 22 to 42% of the species for the upper montane zone. Notably, there are 30 genera and 144 species at Siempre Verde not found at any other of the 14 sites selected. Several non-native plant species were found, but none were particularly invasive. These results suggest that a rich flora exists at Siempre Verde, and that the Reserve harbors a unique combination of species unlike other similar cloud forest sites, providing evidence of the high conservation value of the site. Already a part of Ecuador’s private forest reserve system, Siempre Verde Reserve is located in a region facing increasing threats from mining activities and climate change, and like other cloud forest sites in the region, faces a precarious future. This study summarizes the biological richness at the site, highlights the uniqueness of the Siempre Verde Reserve, and provides an important tool for decision-making and conservation policy.


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How to Cite

Jones, R. L., Pérez, Álvaro J., Reynolds, A., & Webster†, G. L. (2023). Botanical inventory and conservation assessment of Siempre Verde Reserve, Imbabura Province, Ecuador. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 17(2), 457–486.