The singing of the viviñas, the parakeets of the Pacific or the celestial parrots (Forpus coelestis) As this species is known, it lives in a flock and mixes with countless birds that flutter in the treetops of the Samanes I Tropical Dry Foresta remnant of 1.8 hectares that survives in the middle of the houses of this citadel, in the north of Guayaquil.
It is four in the afternoon on Tuesday, July 5. Cloudy skies and a cooler environment make the birds more active with an intense chirping, which is usually only heard at sunrise or closer to sunset.
The place is a Conservation and Sustainable Use Area, declared by the Municipality of Guayaquil on July 7, 2021exactly a year ago, from which ceibos stand out that are over 150 years old and that stand on a hill whose greenery is monumental from the streets in the lower parts of Samanes.
The declaration came after the clamor of the neighbors, who made an effort to preserve this patch of dry forest surrounded by the city’s cement.
The site had several entrances and exits and it was crossed by motorcyclists who entered to save the road, by people who smoked in the middle of the foliage or was even used for satanic ritualsaccording to the complaints presented to the Municipality of Guayaquil.
Jesús Paredes was walking with his dog, which he was holding on a leash and in his hands he was carrying a plastic bag in which he collected the feces of his pet, as a sign of the commitment that the neighbors have in favor of conservation.
“It is a very recreational place. People come more with their dogs for a walk. Some believe that dog feces are fertilizer for the earth, but it has to be worked, so that’s why I bring my bag to collect it,” says the young man, who has lived in the vicinity of this municipal protected area for 15 of the 22 years he lived. have.
In Guayaquil, the dry forest of Samanes 1 is declared a protected area
He sees a change after the declaration. “There was no light (lighting) and smokers would get together, now the police usually pass by and they turn around”, he affirms with the chirping of birds in the background.
Some of the accesses to the remainder are now only for residential use, which prevents the entry of foreigners, especially at night and early in the morning.
Now there is only one public access, which, although it is open, is controlled, since you exit through the same point and there are guards (environmental metropolitan police) who have been patrolling the place since last December.
On his taciturn walks, Jesus says he has seen iguanas, squirrels, foxes, owls, and a variety of birds. There are 21 plant species, 9 of these on the conservation red list; 29 birds and 3 types of reptiles identified in this area ceded to the Municipality (ACM)indicates María Fernanda Rumbea, director of Environment of the Cabildo de Guayaquil.
“This is a joint effort that comes from a committed community. The inhabitants surrounding this forest are people who really have a love for nature and show it day by day. The success is that we work hand in hand with the Municipality with the community because when the efforts are isolated the results are not the same”.
In Guayaquil, only 2% of the dry forest that originally existed in the city remains, he adds. This July 7, 2022 marks one year of the protection of Samanes I, one of the remaining remnants.
The official recalls that she was admitted for the first time just a month before making the declaration due to complaints that satanic rituals were being carried out. Upon arrival, she ran into the imposing ceibo that seems to rise from the center of the place and that overwhelms those who observe it.
“Those who tried to harm were those who used drugs, there were witchcraft rituals next to the ceibos, the motorcycles crossed the forest to cut the road”.
But there are also those who appropriate the place in a positive way. “I have direct communication with many of the residents and they are the first to report and care, as Norka or Mr. Grove. There is one who waters the trees for fifteen years at five in the morning every day”, indicates Rumbea.
The area under conservation is important, since it is host to endangered bird species, says Julián Pérez, director of the Japu Foundation for Research and Conservation, as the red-cheeked parakeet (Psittacara erythrogenys), also known as the Guayaquil aratinga, and the cachetigris (Brotogeris pyrrhoptera).
The first species is in the category of ‘almost threatened’ in the Red List of Birds of Ecuador and the second in the ‘vulnerable’ category. Both are endemic to the dry forest, an ecosystem shared by Ecuador and Peru.
“What is most striking within what exists in biodiversity is the presence of these two species that are important because they are in a category of threat of extinction. These two birds are essential for the dry forest because they are endemic to that ecosystem, they are seed dispersers and use this area as a passagewayso he Samanes I Tropical Dry Forest represents an area of connectivity with other ecosystems”, assures Perez.
These are the ten protected areas that limit or are within Guayaquil
Few people may be behind this conservation model, adds the specialist, but the effort bears positive fruit due to the union of their work, of civil society with decentralized autonomous governments. “With a joint effort you can achieve much more and have a real change.”
Being a point that is in the middle of the urban mass and that stands out from the roofs of the two-story houses that surround it, it is a place of passage, rest and feeding of birds. A kind of island in the middle of the cement.
“I even dare to say that some of those ceibos are the roost of one of these two birds that I have mentioned and that are in a category of danger ”.
In fact, says Pérez, the flowers of the ceibos are one of the foods most desired by these species. “And now they must be in bloom or already in fruit.”
The ceibos, especially one that seems to cover like an umbrella with its branches, are the ones that housed the viviñas that camouflaged themselves in their branches and from which pecked fruits fell that covered part of the only path where visitors walk.
“These are also endemic to the tropical dry forest, but they are more generalists when it comes to feeding and nesting, and this means that they reproduce a little more and are more abundant. Meanwhile, the red-cheeked parakeet and the gray-cheeked parakeet are more specific in their preferences, which is why they have a smaller population,” says Pérez.
The last two eat flowers and fruits of forest trees, while the viviñas, as there are no these trees, descend to ground level and feed on seeds.
“This means that the aratingas and the cachetigris parakeets need a greater tree cover, while the viviñas do not and have a better time, so to speak, since they have more possibilities of finding food.”, he indicates.
Hence the importance of identifying all the trees in the city of Guayaquil to protect them, especially those that are native, adds Pérez. “The objective should be to try to create an ecological corridor so that the different hills of the city, the hot spots of biodiversity, are connected to each other.”
Rumbea affirms that talks, mingas, are held in the place, in addition to two processes of planting native trees. “Since December 2021, the division of the environmental metropolitan police has been created, which also stands guard in Bosqueira and Cerro Paraíso, which are the municipal protected areas. We have ten that we send in rounds of two or three.”
When to visit it?
The entrance hours to the Samanes I Tropical Dry Forest recommended by the municipal authority is from 08:00 to 20:00, although one of the entrances is public, so you can enter even outside these hours.
The place has been reforested with two planting processes during the last year. Native species of guayacán, fernán sánchez, laurel, oak, colorado and cascol grow at the point.
Native trees are more resistant to pests and the city’s climate because they are characteristic of the area, says Rumbea, they also have a greater capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming. (YO)