The story begins when two North Americans arrived in Ecuador and joined a group of settlers: James ("Sam") Milton Whitney and Suzanne ("Suzy") Sheppard Flaccus.
Sam traveled inland to a small blossoming jungle crossroads community, Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas (better known as "The Colorados" for the men's red, pasted-down hair), where other settlers were living as were the Colorado indians, who were scattered in the nearby jungles. Taking a horse trail that eventually led to a tiny hamlet called Quininde, Sam traveled 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) west to take possession of a tract of land he'd acquired from the Ecuadorian Government.
On a visit to Quito in the highlands, Sam met and married Suzy, who'd come from the United States to visit her father. Their daughter Lucia Sara Whitney Neale is now the president of the Susan Sheppard Foundation -- Bosque La Perla.
The Whitneys bought a total of 650 hectares (over 1600 acres) from the Ecuadorian Government and developed 60% of their land into agricultural endeavors in accordance with the Government requirements of that time in order to receive title to their land.
Currently, 250 hectares (over 600 acres) of humid tropical jungle remain untouched, and 32 hectares (about 80 acres) are in the process of reforestation. Is it any wonder that Suzy wanted to live in this spectacular jungle paradise? But she became disillusioned and felt completely impotent as she watched how this beautiful ecosystem was dying at the hands of other settlers.
Suzy dedicated her life to protecting the jungle -- no mean fete given the obstacles put in her way. But when necessary, she didn't hesitate to take drastic measures. Her activities as a conservationist and developer of El Bosque went unnoticed, mostly because Suzy refused to accept public recognition for her accomplishments, with two exceptions prompted by several friends.
Since Suzy's death, The Susan Sheppard Foundation has set the goal of educating people to support them in fighting for, defending, and saving the last acres of untouched throughout the region.
El Bosque is 250 hectares (about 600 acres) of what is left of the original luxurious humid tropical forest in northwestern Ecuador, which is now under the protection of the Ecuadorian Government by State Decree #318, signed August 22, 986, by the then Constitutional President of Ecuador, Leon Febres Cordero.
El Bosque consists of plains and low-rolling hills about 250 meters above sea level, typical of the northwestern part of Ecuador.
Composition of the soil in El Bosque is closely related to the climate, type of vegetation, and original content. Due to its relative humidity of 88% and the high rate of floral regeneration, the soil has a high content of organic material with less than 50% saturation and water retention of over 100%. Effective depth is over 5 meters, depending on location, and generally acidic (5.5 -- 6.2pH). Most of the land is a clay base of 1:1 which was used for thousands of years by natives for making their utensils, jewelry, and other crafts. This explains why pieces of clay pots are sometimes found in El Bosque.
El Bosque has a permanent supply of water that is the refuge for otters, cayman, turtles, iguana, lizards, and other aquatic wildlife. There are swamplands in El Bosque as well as areas of less water. Throughout are streams that break off from estuaries like the (Rivers) Cucaracha, Ramon, and Cañero. These tributaries which originate within the property have supported until now the long droughts which the region has experienced in recent decades as a consequence of the excessive deforestation in the coastal provinces aided by the current problem of global warming.
El Bosque has a humid, tropical climate with temperatures that vary by month. Data from the last ten years indicates a median temperature of 76 degrees F with a maximum of 90 degrees F and a minimum of 68 degrees F. The average relative humidity is 88%, and the annual average precipitation is 3 cubic meters/square meter of soil.
El Bosque is located within littoral geographic zone. The predominant ecological formation is that of a tropical humid forest according to the ecological map of Ecuador.