YAWI SUMAK: Bicycle, an environmental communication tool.

Published: 27 September 2018
Last edited: 19 September 2022
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Yawi-Sumak is a mixture of two indigenous words: Yawi means saladero, a location in the forest where birds and other creatures congregate to consume mineral salts, and Sumak meaning beautiful or great. The activities taken by environmental authorities, local media, and the community in the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources are demonstrated through a bicycle tour with more than 300 bikers. This unique and inclusive communication tool provides the urban residents with a lived experience of the region's visual beauty, ecological services, umbrella species, and cultural diversity of the Shuar, Saraguro, and Mestizo ethnic groups.
The concept was repeated in the Regional Program AbE Ecuador to promote community ecotourism in Membrillal, Manabi, and has become the country's most significant bike excursion. It was presented during the 2017 World Bicycle Forum in Mexico.


South America
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Indigenous people
Outreach & communications
Sustainable livelihoods
Loss of Biodiversity
Ecosystem loss
Inefficient management of financial resources
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Social conflict and civil unrest
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge


Zamora-Chinchipe Province, Ecuador | Loja-Ecuador
Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador
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  • The conventional means of communication for environmental conservation projects (conferences, congresses, brochures, posters, etc.) are attended only by specialized audiences on environmental issues, academics and related institutions.
  • Need to disseminate the actions of local governments for the maintenance and sustainable use of natural resources, such as: monitoring of species, beekeeping, reforestation, management of water sources.
  • The search for inclusive and innovative environmental communication and education strategies that allow to see in practice the species (umbrela species), the ecosystem services and the scenic beauty of the Podocarpus - Yacuambi Connectivity Corridor (CPY).
  • The urban population of Loja and Zamora is not aware of the importance of the ecosystem services provided by the CPY, especially the value of water, in this area approximately 50% of the water is generated for the city of Loja.
  • There is no specific budget for environmental communication in the CPY.


Communities reactivate their economy, especially women, through the sale of food and beverages at  supply points (400 approx.). Cyclists who are educated in the biological importance and ecosystem services provided by the CPY (1500 approx.)


How do the building blocks interact?

After event, the participants, organizers,  environmental institutions and local community of this initiative obtain a high quality product with a high communication potential.
The management and organization of the event through the association and cooperation system, provide an experiential message to cyclists (urban dwellers).

Without the proper interaction between the stakeholders, the message, the communication element (bicycle), and budget it would be impossible to generate a conservation experience like is achieved through the Yawi Sumak initiative.

Proof of this is that the iniciative already has been replicated in several conservation areas of Ecuador (Garua Bike Trip, Manabi, Ecuador) or Bi-national Bike-Trip of the Dry Forest Ecuador-Perú.

We must take into account the important role of the bicycle as a communication tool. Much of the success of this initiative is due to empowerment , the nobility and the acceptance that this sustainable transpotation mode has in the participants and feelings of freedom in contact with nature, people and the community.


The implementation of this initiative has managed to generate positive impacts in the region such as:

  • Reactivation of the local economy of the communities.
  • Dissemination of the importance and work that is being developed in the connectivity corrido Podocarpus - Yacuambi.
  • Attract people from the city to know the environmental reality of protected areas.
  • Generation of funds for conservation projects.
  • Rupture of differences between the authorities and local communities.
  • Multiplication of this initiative in other provinces of Ecuador
  • Creation of spaces for national and cultural integration among cyclists.




In edition 2015, we had an unusual political story: In this area, we have several environmental conflicts because the mining industry is spreading, there are two political leaders of Zamora, Province prefect and Governor, both had political differences, the prefect is an environmentalist indigenous, and the governor is non-indigenous who represent the goverment. After this iniciative and for this environmental cause they got over their political gap and they achived to work and cycling together through the Podocarpus Yacuambi protected area. The bicycle is really a communication tool and political synergy tool for enviromental causes.

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