TTJ Intag Food & Housing Stimulous Project

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Intag, Ecuador

Rio Intag, EcuadorTouch The Jungle is concentrating most of our efforts in the Intag region of Ecuador currently. Intag is still located in the Chocó Bio-region that we have worked for many years in other communities. In this region, Coastal Rainforest transits into Cloud Forests and the Tropical Andes, with ever changing altitudes of the peaks and valleys across the Intag Zone. The various communities of Intag have created eco-friendly economic alternatives, such as organic coffee and other agricultural products, handicrafts, alternative energy, and eco-tourism in order to preserve their pristine environment as an alternative against environmentally destructive activities such as mining. The community spirit of the Intag residents who are devoted to environmental efforts is what brought Touch The Jungle to this area.

Our project wants to help support these communities that are already working hard, on their own, against environmental damaging activities such as mining, and they are determined to live in harmony with their environment. Touch The Jungle assists those communities in these eco-friendly projects in various ways to help protect the habitat and wildlife. We include visits to several locations in the Intag region during our group tours to support the community ecotourism efforts. We have built a wildlife rescue center located near Apuela to assist injured or ill wildlife to return to the wild. We assist farmers with nuisance wildlife that destroy crops or steal chickens to help the farmers and wildlife live cooperatively. In cooperation with a local grass-roots organization, DECOIN, we are supporting other Intag Valley environmental and education programs. These include establishing community owned forest reserves, community watershed reserves, helping build schools, and providing needed supplies to communities that are working hard to preserve their forests, watersheds, and wildlife. Let us introduce you to the beautiful vistas, rare wildlife, and friendly people of the Intag Zone.


The Intag Zone is located in the Imbabura Province of Northern Ecuador on the very biodiverse western slopes of the Andes, about 2.5 hours from Otavalo. Intag is part of the Chocó-Darien Western-Ecuadorian Biological region, which is one of the ten biologically most important zones (hotspot) in the world according to international organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and the World Bank.


Intag residents

Intag KidsThe population of Intag is descended from settlers displaced at the beginning of the 19th century from other parts of Ecuador for populating these forested lands of Intag at a low cost. Today, most citizens in the area are of mixed background, but also includes African-Ecuadorians, and Indigenous peoples, all devoted mainly to agriculture. A government survey showed that the Intag region has a high percentage of indigenous peoples (39%) and a high level of poverty (88%) making the region amongst the poorest in Ecuador. This survey revealed that 72% of families had average earnings of $100 per month or less. The local population also have less access to education and health care than in other areas, with 33% lacking any education. Apuela is one of seven parishes of the Intag Zone, and the capitol of Intag, where most residents from across Intag gather on Sundays for the marketplace to sell and purchase their supplies for the week. The Intag Zone is characterized mainly by its vast geographical size and high population dispersal, accompanied by bad roads within and to Intag. The difficult access to the area and bad roads causes the isolation of many of its communities, especially in the rainiest season. The seasons are not defined but can be described as a very rainy season from February to May, a rainy season from October to January and a dry season from June to September.

Intag Culture, a variety of flavors

Intag Culture Intag Culture

intag valley

The Intag area is still rich in primary cloud forests, and alive with rushing white-water streams and rivers, and small towns and villages. Touch The Jungle's area of work encompasses several life zones, including tropical rain forests, and cloud forests. The cloud forests of the Intag area of Ecuador are in the confluence of two of the world's hottest of the biological hotspots; the Chocó-Darien Western Ecuadorian, and the Tropical Andes biological Hotspots. Though only the sixth of the largest hotspot, the Tropical Andes is considered the single richest hotspot on the planet, containing approximately 15-17% of the world's plant species and nearly 20% of its bird diversity (1,666). For both groups, the endemism is astonishingly over 40%.

Significant portions of these mountain forests are cloud forests. According to the United Nation's World Conservation Center, cloud forests comprise only 2.5% of the world's tropical forests, approximately 25% are found in the Andean region. For these reasons, they are considered to be on top of the list of threatened ecosystems. Furthermore, they play an oversized role in the protection of water resources - with several of the large world's cities relying on them for their drinking water.

The Intag zone hosts a wide variety of threatened and endangered fauna facing extinction including Andean (spectacled) Bears, Jaguars, Pumas, Ocelots, Margays, Dwarf deer, Andean (mountain) Tapir, Mantled Howler Monkey, the critically endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey, Pacaranas, Giant Antpitta, Plate-billed Mountain Toucan, and the Cock of the Rock. There is a great diversity of flora, especially orchids and native forest species such as the Cascarilla, Arrayán, and Sisin.

Intag bird

Intag Orchids

Hundreds of Orchid species live in the coud forests of Intag, Ecuador.

Many species of birds are endemic to this area, meaning they do not exisit anywhere else on the planet.

Intag Bird

Intag Nature


Intag Sign No MiningThe Intag Zone has been under direct threat for many years of large scale copper mining operations. It has been a source of conflict for many years as different foreign companies come into the area to explore for resources and in many cases conduct illegal mining in remote areas. DECOIN is the main local organization in the area actively working with communities, organizations, and local governments to stop mining projects, which threatens the forests, rivers, communities and the sustainable alternatives. Mining is firmly rejected by most communities, as well as local governments count on the firm and resolute support of the Cotacachi Municipal Government. Copper mining would be situated in areas of pristine cloud forests, bordering the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve, arguable one of the world's most biodiverse protected area. The environmental impact study carried out by two Japanese overseas development agencies, call for impacts to the reserve, for "massive deforestation" (cited from the study), in addition to relocation of four communities and contamination with heavy metals. DECOIN identified 28 species of endangered mammals and birds whose habitats would be impacted, including jaguars, spectacled bears, pumas, ocelots and many others.


The local organization, DECOIN, made up entirely of Intag residents, was directly responsible for Cotacachi County in the Intag Zone being declared the first Ecological County in Latin America, in September 2000. This measure, which is backed by a legally binding Municipal Ecological Ordinance and which affects all of the 1800 square kilometers of Cotacachi County, seeks to re orient development in the county by backing real sustainable activities (organic farming, clean industries, ecological, rural, and community tourism, etc.), that benefit communities and the environment, and not industry. It makes the conservation of native forests a priority. In addition, the Ordinance also prohibits environmental destructive activities, such as mining and industrial logging, and imposes strict environmental controls on the flower industry. It encourages a change in attitude towards the environment, through social and economic incentives, and institutionalizes recycling, among many other measures. One of the main objectives of the ordinance is the creation of a model of sustainable development for Latin America, one in which communities are empowered to conserve their natural resources, and use them wisely. It is these types of measures and efforts that Touch The Jungle supports in cooperation with DECOIN and the local communities. The natural resources and wildlife habitat cannot be saved if the people who live there are not willing to fight for it. We are proud to join with the determined Intag residents in their ongoing struggle to save their natural habitats.


Documentary of the Mining Fight in Junin, Intag: UNDER RICH EARTH

Under Rich Earth Trailer from Marco Rafael on Vimeo.

Conservation of the Intag Area


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