The western area of Ecuador is one of the places in the world where biodiversity is at highest risk. In a relatively small area (about 80,000 km2), western Ecuador has various small, isolated, and unique forest types, a high percentage of endemic species, and has been severely deforested.
More than 95% of semi-deciduous forests and wetlands of the central and southern parts of the coast have disappeared because the climate and soils of these areas are particularly suitable for intensive agriculture. Today, these fertile soils are mainly used for large scale, export-oriented production of bananas, cocoa and palm oil, rather than subsistence farming on a small scale.
Forest patches outside protected areas are especially at risk, as well as being virtually unknown and undocumented. It is vital that these forests are studied, samples are collected, and conservation efforts are made.