Western South America: Northwest Colombia to southern Ecuador

The Northwestern Andean montane forest ecoregion is among the most diverse regions on the planet. The disjunct formation of Andean topography and pronounced glacial period of isolation forced plant and animal communities to adapt to different areas after being cut off from each other; therefore laying the perfect foundation for speciation. For a variety of reasons, related to their complex topography and a biogeographical history featuring continual altitudinal migration of vegetation zones in response to changing climate, these ecosystems today present a diverse array of distinctive biological communities, characterized by unusually high levels of species endemism. This region not only boasts the highest biodiversity, but also the highest percentage of endemic species. About 50% of its flora is found nowhere else, and this area contains the highest concentration of endemic bird areas. Unfortunately, people have found these areas livable and have disturbed these natural areas in many ways since pre-Colombian times. Although some reasonably sized continuous forest stands still exist, patchiness from farms and other anthropogenic influences have disturbed these highly sensitive forests.

  • Scientific Code
  • Ecoregion Category
  • Size
    31,400 square miles
  • Status
  • Habitats


Location and General Description

Biodiversity Features

Current Status

Types and Severity of Threats

Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
These montane forests are delineated by elevational changes in vegetation. Lower elevation linework follows the 200m contour along the Pacific slope and was distinguished from neighboring montane forests by expert opinion at an ecoregion workshop on the Northern Andes (Bogota, Colombia, 24-26, July, 2000). These forests occur on the western slopes of the Andes from their origins in northern Colombia and extend southwards through Ecuador. At higher elevations delineation’s are drawn along the unique treeless páramo habitats, otherwise they are along the continental divide. In Ecuador reference was made to Sierra (1999). This ecoregion is host to many endemic species.

Complejo Ecoregional de los Andes del Norte (CEAN). Experts and ecoregional priority setting workshop. Bogota, Colombia, 24-26, July, 2000.

Sierra, R., editor. 1999. Propuesta Preliminar de uns Sistema de Clasificación de Vegetación para el Ecuador Continental. Proyecto INEFAN/GEF-BIRF y EcoCiencia. Quito, Ecuador.

Prepared by: Brad Klein
Reviewed by: In process


The Global 200