"There are successful business people who follow their bucket list and invest in a yacht or golf club membership after achieving their career goals. Others are eager to spend quality time with their family and travel the world. I had the dream of giving something back to nature after getting at the peak of my career," says Patrick Bredthauer, former CEO of Holcim in Ecuador and currently CEO of Compsesa who sets sustainability as a life goal. For the past three decades, Patrick has purchased land for nature conservancy in Ecuador and started a reforestation project to protect the land and its wildlife.
The property purchased by Patrick has an extension of 386 Hectares of land with a waterfront of 5.5 Kilometres. The scenics of the property are impressive and unique on the whole Ecuadorian coastline, especially considering that it is a private property. When the first part of the property was purchased, the trees were being felled to make wood charcoal. Parts of it were saved from total destruction and other parts of the areas needed to be regenerated through a long and costly reforestation project which has been very successful so far.
Up to now 230 species of birds have been sighted on the property and the Dorada beach is the highest intensity nesting place for sea turtles. Wildlife has thrived and now the area has large quantities of insects (in particular butterflies), birds, and mammals. This is a testimony that this unusual approach, i.e., not solely pursue nature conservancy but a high diversity nature regeneration, is possible and a future option.
Currently, Patrick is investigating within Compsesa future Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies to further enhance its environment and create high-end and self-sufficient solutions that allow natural conservancy.
The project site is located on the Ecuadorian coastline in the small township of Rio Chico, 178km to the South of the equator. Rio Chico is situated 3.5 km of the more well-known and populated (1700 inhabitants) fishing town of Salango. This area is part of the Manabi province and the project is located within the municipality of Puerto Lopez. These small Pacific coastal towns of Ecuador are situated northwest of the city of Guayaquil.
The region (including Manabi coastline and Salango area) is well known for the existence of an extensive variety of birds (more than 280 species of which many endemic) and large number of mammals like wildcats, monkeys, anteaters, armadillos, peccaries, and deer.
On the contrary, socio-economic situation of this region is very preoccupying in view of the constant worsening of available income and the reduction in the quality of life of its inhabitants.
Until recent years, the region experienced an increase in population due to the abundant natural resources that were available. This led to an accelerated depletion of resources due to depredatory practices such as massive wood felling and over fishing.
The excessive felling in the mountain range has led to a reduction of the available water and rainfall thus leading to a slow desertification of the region. The absence of rains also has an influence on the abundance of fish due to the lack of nutrients that should flow to the sea carried by the river waters. In recent years the depredation of nature has slowed down and more reforestation projects are being carried out.
In the last 10 years people are gradually abandoning their land and only dedicating their efforts to harvesting whatever was planted before or felling trees to pay for their most necessary needs. On the other hand the abandoning of the landholdings in the Chongon Colonche range, especially in more remote areas, has led to a natural regeneration.
Over fishing due to an increase in number and size of boats, better techniques such as using sonar and GPS devices, and the uninterrupted fishing has led to a depletion of the resource. Overall, all this has led to lower catches, longer trips and much higher operating costs thus reducing the income from these activities.
The project has three main components which should interact to create a unique venture to enhance sustainability: protection and regeneration of nature, social involvement and tourism, as a means of generating income to guarantee sustainability, are the main pillars of this endeavour.
Society needs to search new forms of coexistence and respect of nature. The magnitude of degradation that the environment has suffered is such that the sole protection of it is insufficient. Serious efforts to regenerate nature must be undertaken. For this reason, as of now 337 hectares of natural reserve, buffer areas and botanical gardens have been set aside in order to carry out constant efforts to protect and recuperate a partially depredated environment.
To reduce erosion and following the principles of permaculture all the water troughs were protected with stones and intermediate walls were erected to slow the water velocity in order to give it time to penetrate the earth and subsequently increase the water availability in the well situated below. These water corridors have also been surrounded by fruit plants and different types of bamboo in order to create an ideal resting place for the birds.
In order to sustainably achieve the goals with respect to regeneration and protection of nature as well as the proposed social programs, a profitable tourism operation is one of the prerequisites.
Also new technologies can be a help in protecting the environment. In particular, Internet-of-Things (IoT) powered solution can enable the real-time monitoring and analysis of the environment.
Patrick is investigating within Compsesa Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies to develop high-end and autark solutions that protect forests from destruction by humans. Smart, low-power, and low-cost IoT sensors can be used to gather real-time information on the land and its inhabitants. Damages can be prevented using an intelligent alarming system.
In order to attract global interest in Ecuador, Patrick is currently organising the biggest LATAM IoT conference in Guayaquil (Ecuador) in May 2020. The essential goal of the conference is to get the key global IoT players’ interest to the sustainability projects within Latin America.
If you wish to learn more about the project owner (Patrick) and the company involved (Compsesa), do not hesitate to get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed are from the author, and don't necessarily reflect those of the Solar Impulse Foundation.
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