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BUILDING OF THE GUAMOTE-
Photos by Craig C. Downer
These photos, taken in late March of 1995, show devastation of the upper Purshi area of Sangay National Park, south of Quito, Ecuador. Damage here is being caused by construction of the Guamote-
While laws are in place prohibiting cattle and agriculture from invading its boundaries, the laws are not enforced. Along with settlers come the poachers, so devastating to the slow-
Photo 1, above, shows a bulldozer working on the road. While this is a typical scene for any road constructed through a mountainous area, it has been agreed by a number of civil engineers that the damaged caused by building this particular road is especially irresponsible. The photo also shows the steepness of the terrain and the pristene nature of the land before the heavy equipment came in. The low clouds shown throughout this series are typical of the treeless high paramo of this portion of the Andes. The area has been called a "living sponge," and is vital to the water supply of areas lower down the mountain, including the Amazon Basin itself.
In Photo 2 we see additional carving out of the living sponge.
Photo 4 is again taken from the shores of Laguna Negra with mountains reflected in the lake's now-
In Photos 5 and 6 we see two views of slide areas created by the road. The volcanic soils of the high northern Andes are typically thin, underlain by rock. Once damaged, they do not quickly regenerate their life-