Ecominga’s Reserva Dracula is in a valley near the town of Chical in northern Ecuador on the border with Colombia.
Previous land acquisitions in this region established mid- and high-elevation holdings that serve as a center of diversity for the orchid genus Dracula. The current reserve property includes the only known Ecuadorian populations of several Dracula species. Additionally, many new species of orchids and other flora (trees) and fauna (frogs and mammals) have been discovered in the reserve. The funding for this reserve was provided by the combined efforts of the OCA, the University of Basel, the Verein Botanischer Garten beim Spalentor (a garden club in Basel, Switzerland) and the Rainforest Trust. This area is threatened by road development, conversion to agriculture, mining and plant collection, and habitat protection is very important to preserve the rich biodiversity.
Since the initial funding in 2015, additional properties have been purchased, and today the reserve covers 2807 acres at a range of elevations from 2600-7500 ft (~ 800-2300 m) above sea level (asl).
Most parts of the reserve are primary forests that have never been cut, but recent road building and agricultural expansion have done great damage to the areas along the road. The density of animal and plant species (number of species per area) found on the western slope of the Andes is approximately five times higher than in most temperate regions around the world (e.g., Central Europe). Because of a wide elevation range and a high diversity of habitats, the Dracula Reserve contains great potential for biological field research, which is currently being carried out here by people from several Ecuadorian and foreign institutions. EcoMinga is continuing to identify new properties at different elevations in nearby locations to extend the reserve area and expand the diversity of species protected.