Protecting Forests and Waterways with Sustainable Tourism in the Ecuadorian Amazon

The Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, the second largest protected area in Ecuador, is a lush swath of the Amazon that spans the foothills of the Andes. Cuyabeno rewards adventurous travelers with spectacular nature experiences, so leaving a lighter footprint is imperative. Pristine forests in the Amazon are becoming rarer as logging, large-scale agriculture, and road development continue to threaten these critical ecosystems.

The Rainforest Alliance is working with 12 tourism businesses in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve to improve their facilities, making them more sustainable and prepared to receive visitors from all over the world.

Using the Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable tourism operations manual, Caiman Lodge developed a program for solid waste management, including an organized waste disposal and collection site where guests and employees can compost organic waste and safely dispose of toxic materials. Proper waste management is crucial to protecting the area’s precious waterways.

Guacamayo Lodge, Jamu Lodge, and Amaru Lodge acquired biodigesters that recycle organic waste into fuel that can be used for cooking, heating, and more. The new, updated biodigesters are equipped with cameras that monitor the biodigestion process. These systems reduce pollution in the Cuyabeno River and Laguna Grande and increase the lodges’ efficiency by cutting fuel costs.

Caiman Lodge, Ecuador

Caiman Lodge 

Amaru Lodge also built a space for safely storing fuel containers and gasoline tanks. The storage area is well-marked, openly accessible, and equipped with a fire extinguisher, helping to safeguard the well-being of employees and visitors.

"These are just some of the many changes that are part of the long-term work of tourist entrepreneurs, the Ministry of Environment, and the Rainforest Alliance in the area," says Verónica Muñoz, manager of the Rainforest Alliance’s sustainable tourism program in Ecuador. "We’re providing technical assistance and facilitating improved tourism management practices, thereby improving the quality of this tourist destination."

The Rainforest Alliance is working to conserve the Amazon rainforest throughout Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. We have partnered with more than 30 local and international NGOs under the Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon (ICAA)—a regional, long-term program created by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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