A women-led sustainable project based on native bee products: Sweet conservation in the Ecuadorian lowland Chocó forest.
The Ecuadorian lowland Chocó is an area with a high level of endemism within the global biodiversity hotspot ‘Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena’. It is also one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world due to deforestation, land use change and monocultures. Furthermore, the province Esmeraldas has one of the highest levels of poverty and illiteracy in Ecuador, which has a greater impact on women.
Stingless bees are among the most important pollinators in tropical forests as they are responsible for maintaining forest diversity. Deforestation, fragmentation, monocultures and indiscriminate use of pesticides threaten native bee populations, reducing numbers and potentially leading to local extinctions.
By working with women from local farming communities we will enhance knowledge of native bee populations and their importance to forest conservation and ecosystem health. Furthermore, we will empower women by establishing alternative, sustainable businesses based on native bee honey products, which are highly valued in national and international markets. The value of this project lies in its unique approach to combining conservation of one of the most diverse and threatened tropical forests with empowerment of local female farmers to lead sustainable businesses based around native meliponiculture.