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Episodes 2022; 45(4): 417-429

Published online December 1, 2022


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Participatory strategies applied for the geoconservation of speleological heritage at the Napo Sumaco Geopark (Ecuador)

Jose Luis Sanchez-Cortez*, Daniel Jaque-Bonilla, Marco Simbaña-Tasiguano, Diana Astudillo-Bravo, Estefania Cabascango-Chiliquinga

Universidad de Guayaquil, Guayaquil, Ecuador; Amazonian Regional University Ikiam, Tena, Ecuador; Napo Sumaco Geopark Foundation, Tena, Ecuador

Correspondence to:E-mail: jose.sanchezco@ug.edu.ec

Received: May 8, 2021; Revised: January 9, 2022; Accepted: January 9, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Napo Sumaco Geopark is located in the Amazonian province of Napo, northeastern Ecuador. It covers an approximate area of 1,780 km2, and 68,000 inhabitants, living in approximately 70 local communities, that identify themselves as Amazonian kichwas. The main geological interests in this area, are linked to Cretaceous sedimentary basins, volcanic processes and quaternary deformation structures, as well as a vast territory with karstic characteristics. During the systematic process of caves inventory, applying participant observation methods, some improper and inappropriate conditions and attitudes were observed in the community management of speleological resources. Due to the unsuitable situations and actions observed inside the caves, some measures were proposed which contribute to the improvement of this problem. Thus, using participatory processes, some key ideas could be generated to improve the management and handling of the speleological elements of the territory. In conjunction with collaborating institutions and local governments, frequently develops workshops and training aimed at the awareness and conservation of geological heritage sites. In addition, owners of sites of interest receive workshops on the use of exploration equipment, rope progression and underground cartography. Finally, the contribution of the Napo Sumaco Geopark in cave conservation is considered within the management plans and master plan.