The Ecoroute presents an interesting variety of life zones that reflect the transition of flora and fauna from ‘paramo’ to subtropical rain forests.
A life zone is a combination of abiotic factors (soil, temperature, humidity, altitude, light, etc) which determine the type and variety of flora and fauna existing in the zone (biotic factors) .
The majority of the Ecoroute goes through a life zone of Humid Cloud Forest, characterized by rainfall of up to 4,000 mm per year, and a thin layer of fertile volcanic soils. It is mainly due to these two characteristics that the vegetation is exuberant, with a great abundance of mosses, bromeliads, and above all orchids. Much of this largely epiphytic plant life lives on medium sized trees, the branches of which are densely covered with a multitude of species.
It is worth mentioning that of the approximately 18,000 species of orchids that exist in the world, Ecuador has some 4,700 species, and it is particularly in cloud forests that many of these species are found, in almost double the diversity of lowland rain forests.
Visitors will also be very aware of the big tree ferns (ferns with the form and size of real trees) and the Silver-leafed Cecropias, whose leaves seem to shine in the sun.
Other important life zones crossed by the Ecoroute are: remnants of high Andean vegetation (the ‘Andean brow’) , characterized by ‘paramos’ of low herbaceous plants and a few bushes, frequently altered for cattle-ranching.
The visitor will also observe many areas of regenerating, secondary forest, which are areas in the process of recreating original, eventually primary forest, thanks to conservation efforts and controlled use of the forest such as the Ecoroute is working to implement.