Adaptive watershed management in the South American highlands: Learning and teaching on the fly


J. Alwang; V. Barrera; R. Andrade; S. Hamilton; G.W. Norton

Type of Document:
Scholarly Article


Soil and Water Conservation Society

Date of Publication:

Place of Publication:
Ankeny, IA


This chapter describes the Chimbo watershed in the Bolivar Province in Ecuador and efforts that are being made to increase agricultural productivity and soil quality in this area. It begins by explaining the landscape along the Guayas River in this Andean region and its relation to the loss of biodiversity and decreasing crop productivity. Because the top of the Chimbo watershed is in the steeply-sloped Andes, agriculture-related pollution and water quality are becoming a huge concern. Low productivity and environmental degradation are causing high rates of poverty in Ecuador and putting a lot of pressure on smallholders to sustain their families and livelihoods.

This chapter offers approaches to solving these problems using adaptive management strategies to promote long-term sustainability. This process involves evaluating the areas of concern, engaging local governments and stakeholders across the landscape scale, and enhancing the capacity of institutions and smallholders to influence decisions, monitor changes, then adopt improved strategies. By employing these adaptive management methods, collaborators can change lifestyle opportunities and generate sustainable alternatives that are consistent with environmental quality.

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