Quito Improves Climate Adaptation and Conservation of Critical Ecosystems

April 7, 2014


Man working at wood mill. Ecuador. 

© Edwin Huffman / World Bank

In order to improve management of Quito’s highly valuable ecosystems, the World Bank supported knowledge generation in areas where relevant gaps existed. This project helped develop a full protocol methodology to assess deforestation and land use change in Quito. In addition, a systematic analysis was carried out to identify baseline conditions that exert pressure on the ecosystems, indicating that most efforts should be placed towards increasing the management of human activities around natural areas.


Much of Quito District’s territory (around 60%) is covered by natural or planted vegetation, presenting high levels of diversity and endemism of important ecological and socioeconomic functions. The District is also home to a city of over 2 million inhabitants, growing economic activity and agriculture, all of which happen in the vicinity of highly valuable and fragile ecosystems.

Although there are plenty of conservation efforts in the District, its natural heritage is still subject to significant threats. Deforestation is rising due to an increasing population, and ecosystems are constantly under pressure from human activity. Compounding these issues is the overarching impact of climate change. An appropriate, integrated management of Quito’s ecosystems – upon which many services depend on – becomes critical in order to guarantee a sustainable development path for the region.


In order to improve management of Quito’s highly valuable ecosystems, the Bank supported Quito beginning in 2011 on knowledge generation in areas where relevant gaps existed. Efforts were focused on two specific topics:

  1. Assessment of the Environment Secretariat’s methodology to calculate deforestation levels and recommendations on how to continue the implementation of Quito’s proposed Carbon Offsets Metropolitan System; and
  2. Recommendations on how to better manage Quito’s natural protected areas, through specific case studies in three priority sites.

The World Bank secured the participation and engagement of internationally renowned experts on deforestation topics and reputed scientific institutions such as the Centro Internacional para la Investigación del Fenónemo de El Niño, CIIFEN, who worked hand in hand with the Environment Secretariat in order to ensure that products were adequate for their capacities and needs.


Two key analytical reports were completed and delivered to the Environment Secretariat of Quito. The reports produced contain a number of findings that are relevant for the Secretariat to better manage Quito’s rich natural endowment. Some selected outputs are:

  • A detailed and descriptive protocol to estimate the multi-temporal land use change, based on the land-use change, and the steps to calculate annual deforestation rates for the District.
  • A methodology to estimate future deforestation rates. It was estimated that by 2023 the coverage of natural ecosystems would be reduced by approximately 5% as referred to 2009.
  • Extremely comprehensive and rich baseline ecosystem data for three pilot areas. It produced over 90 maps in GIS format that become an important database for management and regulation of the areas.
  • Projections on population growth, economic activity, and evaluation of climate change scenarios, and a composite of future expected impacts.
  • A map of prioritization, where the highest impacts together with the lowest capacity of the ecosystem to absorb them were plotted.
  • An exhaustive list of recommendations at different levels, which was made in collaboration with communities and other directly involved stakeholders.

Bank Group Contribution

World Bank budgetary funds were used, in coordination with a grant through the Spanish Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean (SFLAC), in order to hire consultants and a firm to conduct specific portions of research, and to ensure participation of Bank staff.

Moving Forward

As a direct follow-up of the analytical work lead by the Bank, Quito’s Environment Secretariat is further formulating management plans for the three selected areas:

  1. Better manage natural protected areas
  2. Improve deforestation monitoring capacity
  3. Carry out actions to curb deforestation trends.

Furthermore, the Secretariat is recalculating the greenhouse gas inventories and fine-tuning one of the proposals set forth on the deforestation report, which will eventually turn into the implementation of a carbon emissions offset mechanism for the city.

The Municipality of Quito now has a list of priority interventions aimed at relieving pressures and better managing natural areas. Moving forward, and based on needs and interest, the Bank will provide continued support into the development of some of these options.


The direct beneficiaries of this exercise are the practitioners and policy makers of Quito’s District. Through their increased capacity to manage natural capital and forests, their actions and decisions have the potential to affect the livelihoods and well-being of many Ecuadorians.

Over 90 maps
in GIS format that become an important database for management and regulation of the areas