Francisco Javier Robayo
Reserva Expedition Author: Callie Broaddus
2022

Francisco Javier Robayo

Conservationist

Conserving forests, expanding access

meet javier

Javier Robayo is executive director of Fundación Ecominga, a non-profit organization that maintains over 27,000 acres of protected areas in Ecuador’s Chocó and Tropical Andes. As a biologist and educator, he has led more than 200 research and teaching expeditions in Ecuador. His extensive, collaborative fieldwork has led to the discovery of more than ten species of orchids, a new genus containing two species of rodents, a new genus of frog, and five other species of amphibians. Javier’s work focuses on highlighting biodiversity to prevent the deforestation of these irreplaceable forests, which are severely threatened by agricultural development and mining exploration.

Conserving forests, expanding access
Nominated by: Callie Broaddus MN'21
Class of 2022 Location USA
Dracula Youth Reserve Expedition
Dracula Youth Reserve Expedition Author: Callie Broaddus

Our mountains are full of endemic species and expressions of biodiversity in shapes and sizes never imagined, and exploration is endless. The petals, scales, feathers and sounds that fill our forests teach us about degrading habitats and their absence gives meaning to silence. My work involves creating private protected areas that provide habitat to Ecuador’s most threatened species, safeguarding areas of high biodiversity, and protecting clean water sources for the benefit of both wildlife and people. My commitment is to motivate local and indigenous people to join in scientific exploration and synchronize local mythology with natural history as we work together for the preservation of Ecuador’s biodiversity.

“By expanding the network of people who explore the forests together, we expand the definition of exploration itself.”

- Francisco Javier Robayo
Author: Callie Broaddus

My work in cloud forest conservation requires a constant exploration mindset. By leading fieldwork expeditions, I explore lands that are not yet studied, often uncovering completely new species. I also explore ways to engage local people in the value of scientific studies and how to employ them in conservation work on their ancestral lands. Our work can be stronger when we invite help from youth scientists and storytellers.

Historically, conservation has been unsuccessful in areas where protectors of the forest were blind the needs of the community. As much as we explore the land in a traditional sense, we must explore our community. We have the responsibility to take care of the forest while also bringing together funders, experts, young Ecuadorian researchers, lawyers, communicators, community members, and scientists in the country’s most remote places. By expanding the network of people who explore the forests together, we expand the definition of exploration itself.

Author: Julio C. Carron

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