Located in the Mache Mountains in the northwestern coastal province of Esmeraldas, in Ecuadorhe, the Bilsa Biological Station is a 3,000 hectares (7,410 acres) nature preserve and a center for field research and environmental education in northwestern coastal Ecuador. Founded in 1994 by the Fundación Jatun Sacha in memory of conservation biologists Al Gentry and Ted Parker, Bilsa conserves a critical remnant of Ecuador’s coastal premontane wet forest, of which less than one percent remains.
Located in the Mache Mountains in the northwestern coastal province of Esmeraldas, this remnant forest has a unique composition of flora and fauna, internationally renowned for both its diversity and rarity. Although physically isolated from the Andes, Bilsa possesses species also encountered in the western Andean middle elevation cloud forests 100 km to the southwest, as well as species endemic to the Choco, a pluvial forest of southern coastal Colombia, and species common to the generally dryer Tumbesian Bio-region.
The region’s rugged topography (300 to 800 meters) and the coastal climate create a dense fog which shrouds all of Bilsa’s steeper ridges. Rare animals found at the reserve include the Jaguar, several small cat species, the Long Wattled Umbrella Bird, the Giant Anteater and abundant populations of the threatened Mantled Howler Monkey. The reserve’s bird species diversity (about 330 species) is among the highest of any coastal site in Ecuador. Bilsa also harbors several threatened bird species, and contains isolated populations of 9 bird species never before recorded outside the Andes. The ongoing botanical inventory at Bilsa has uncovered 30 plant species new to science.