Outfitter Small World Adventures is putting its money where its river mouth is. The company announced that for all donations to the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute made by April 15, 2022, it will match up to $2,000—which will go a long way toward helping protect the country’s rivers.
“Small World Adventures is proud to work with the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute, a US non-profit 501c3 organization that has been working to protect and conserve unique watershed resources in Ecuador since 2002,” says SWA co-owner Darcy Gaechter. “Their current strategy is to try to put into place permanent protections for some of Ecuador’s most popular rafting and kayaking rivers. Another focus is to keep legal pressure on the government and the companies interested in oil, mining and hydro development to follow Ecuador’s environmental and indigenous rights laws when trying to push new projects forward.”
Right now, ERI is working on several river-protection issues. Most notably, the Ministry of Energy has announced a selective bidding process for 19 new run-of-river hydro projects. Twelve of these proposed projects would affect recreational river users, and three of the projects would be catastrophic for the future of paddlesports tourism in Ecuador: The La Merced de Jondachi and Sardinas de Jondachi projects located on the Upper and Middle sections of the legendary Jondachi River, as well as the San Mateo hydro project on the Oyacachi River.
A separate bidding process, says Gaechter, is also underway for the 2400-MW Santiago HPP. This large dam project would flood the entire Namangoza Gorge (near Macas) upstream of its 125-meter-tall dam, and likely flood the Cueva de los Tayos, which is the largest known cave system in Ecuador and is home to the mysterious Oilbirds. Meanwhile, the ERI also continues to fight for a free-flowing Piatua as that case develops.
On a brighter note, she adds, the Ministry of Environment, Division of Water Resources, and the Ministry of Tourism met with the ERI and agreed to form a working group to establish a new river protection program in Ecuador. The ERI and its legal team plan to work closely with these ministries to make sure they move forward with this important project. This program is endorsed by more than 147,000 signees of the petition below; if you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition.
“Whether you donate now or in the future, the ERI needs your support to keep up with ongoing legal expenses to address these issues and to help preserve outstanding paddlesports destinations in Ecuador,” Gaechter says.
US tax-deductible contributions can be made here: https://ecuadorianrivers.org/donate/