The Bosque Protector Cerro Blanco (Cerro Blanco Protected Forest) is a 6,078 ha reserve that protects a significant remnant of dry tropical forest in Ecuador. Under Ecuadorian law one of the principal ways to protect private lands is to declare them as protected forests and vegetation. These areas for the most part do not receive funding from the government but their designation does provide some legal support when the inevitable conflicts in land use arise. Cerro Blanco, which was designated a protected forest in 1989 via government decree, is one of the earliest and also most consolidated of the protected forests. With support from the private sector, principally Holcim, which has a cement-producing plant in the forest buffer zone, Fundación Pro Bosque has set up a broad-based management program that includes control and vigilance, dry forest restoration, environmental education and interpretation, scientific investigation, and community development. This article provides a perspective of establishing protected areas in biodiverse areas facing many challenges, including rapid urban expansion, poorly regulated land use, and encroachment. The article includes some lessons learned that may be of use in attempting to establish protected areas in other places with similar challenges.

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