El Instituto de Geografía de la USFQ ha sido creado para generar conocimiento científico de los procesos ambientales, socioeconómicos y biofísicos que ocurren en el territorio Ecuatoriano. Así, crea evidencia relevante para las políticas públicas, la acción individual y social para la conservación de los ecosistemas y bienestar de las poblaciones.Ver más

Generar conocimiento ecológico, social y económico, a diferentes escalas, que permita el reconocimiento de la diversidad biológica

Generar evidencia científica que contribuya con el mejor uso de los recursos naturales y el desarrollo de las poblaciones.

Promover a la información geográfica como una herramienta para la transparencia y la rendición de cuentas en torno al uso de los recursos naturales.

Generar capacidades en la teoría geográfica y en herramientas aplicadas dentro de la comunidad académica y sociedad en general.


Ejes Temáticos


  • Conservación y sustentabilidad
  • Actividades extractivas
  • Turismo y comunidades locales
  • Salud pública y epidemiología ambiental
  • Dimensiones espaciales de los negocios
  • Modelamiento espacialmente explicito
  • Procesos de cambio climático
  • Dinámicas hidrológicas
  • Estudios alto-andinos



  • Generación y aplicación de tecnología
  • Ciencia ciudadana
  • Ecosistemas y poblaciones vulnerables
  • Interconectividad regional




El Instituto de Geografía usará el territorio o el espacio como un elemento de organización para producir conocimiento aplicado en los campos de la geografía física y humana y los de las ciencias de la información geográfica, para contribuir al conocimiento científico geográfico y también aportará con la mejor información geográfica posible para que las decisiones sobre el uso y manejo de los recursos naturales sea la mejor posible.



Nuestro Geoportal de Mapas y Datos

 Iniciativa de Monitoreo Participativo Comunitario – IMAC

Monitoreo participativo de la calidad del agua


La amazonía ecuatoriana y sus diversas aristas


Las Islas Galápagos desde una visión geográfica







A community based environmental monitoring initiative as a form of empowerment of people through knowledge and data validation

Alexandra Guevara, Carolina Sampedro, Carlos Mena

The Ecuadorian Amazon region has long been the scenario of conflicts pertaining the extraction of natural resources, especially oil. In general, the main or most visible source of the conflicts seems to be the perceived pollution in different environmental compartments (air, water, soil, air) due to the exploration, extraction and transport of the resource. This paper emphasizes on the importance and challenges of community participation in environmental monitoring programs which aim at individuals and communities being aware of environmental quality through the enhancement of education. This community based environmental monitoring initiative was developed by the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and the Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia and was envisioned as an educational and training component within a larger research project that analyses social and environmental conflicts that arise when natural resources are extracted, especially in areas home to fragile ecosystems and fragile indigenous and other resident communities. This program is focused on training community members on how to notice subtle changes in water quality parameters using a variety of water quality measuring apparatus. We assembled a kit containing several simple instruments and is used by members of the community to approximate water quality. Monitoring sites were selected from a total of 146 which were tested and evaluated for physical, chemical, biological and ecological indicators. 30 water and sediment samples were selected randomly and analyzed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs and heavy metals. Traces of these components were found in all samples. The above processes were thought as a tool for empowering communities.

Remote sensing for oil spill footprint detection in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Carolina Sampedro , Patricia Martínez V., Homero Paltán L., Carlos F. Mena.

In approximately 40 years (1970 – 2012) a number of 1100 oil spills were registered in the Ecuadorian Amazon region by the Ecuadorian government through a database compiled by the Ecuadorian Environmental and Social Reparation Programme (PRAS). Nevertheless, no monitoring methods have been used to identify and quantify the number of spills in a periodical manner. This article compares three remote sensing standard methodologies using Landsat and Radarsat images to establish an effective method to identify the oil spills. 47 points within the northern Ecuadorian amazon were selected with three criteria: a minimum area of 900m2, images dating from 1990 until 2009, and which were cloud-free. 55 Landsat 5 TM and Landsat 7 ETM+ images were chosen and used to compare pre and post-spill information. In order to avoid significant seasonal and landscape changes, we used images ranging from 2 years prior to the spill and 3 months post spill. Sub-pixel and fractional coverage methods were applied to a 10 km radius from the selected points and a comparison with the spill area was made so the results of both methods could be evaluated.

Mapping and Predicting Carbon Emissions and Deforestation in the Ecuadorean Amazon

Francisco Laso, Patricia Martínez, Alexandra Guevara, Carlos Mena.

Deforestation is one of the main sources of atmospheric carbon emissions. We used land-use change simulations (IDRISI Selva) and existing carbon maps in order to estimate the amount of carbon that will be released into the atmosphere in the coming decades due to deforestation throughout the Ecuadorian Amazon. We took into account land cover from three time periods (1990, 2000, 2008), hydrology, geographical slope, road network, and newly leased oil block locations to predict where deforestation was likely to occur. Then, we overlaid this information with current (2014) carbon maps of Ecuador to estimate the carbon contained in deforested areas. Preliminary results show that most forest loss was due to agricultural expansion from 1990 to 2000. By using these data to calibrate our model, simulations suggest that by the year 2038 there will be a 10% reduction of forest cover. This represents an average of 126.05 Tons of C/Ha, which adds up to over 2 million Tons of Carbon released into the atmosphere due to deforestation in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Validation data comparing projected vs. observed land cover for 2008 had a 97% agreement rate, and suggested that our results are conservative. This is a pilot project for a more exhaustive effort to estimate carbon emissions from deforestation in the Amazon region.

Phases of oil exploration and exploitation in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon

Quiroga, D., and Mena C.F.

This article explores the way in which the communities living in the Ecuadorian Amazon Forest (Oriente) have developed different responses to the incursion of the oil companies. We also seek to explain why the diverse communities have responded in different ways. There are a series of factors that account for the differences which include the different degree of organization of the indigenous communities, the different legal framework but at the national and international level, the different environmental and social practices of the oil companies and the changing role of NGOs and other external organizations. This article explores the reasons that explain why communities living in the Oriente have developed different responses to the incursion of the oil companies. A series of factors account for the different responses, including the degree of organization of the indigenous communities, when and how they got access to their land titles, changes in the legal framework both at the national and international level, the different environmental and social practices of the oil companies and the changing role of NGOs and other external organizations. We argue that these factors have determined the way in which the communities feel and perceive their sense of entitlement and their acceptance or rejection of the oil companies In general, communities in general reacted more passively to the invasion of an oil company when initial contact was made by the oil company itself and by missionaries. However, communities with more organizational and cultural capacities showed a more organized reaction to the same incursion of an oil company.

Territorial dynamics in mining conflicts: A comparative analysis of two local mining conflicts in Ecuador

Consuelo Fernández, Duygu Avci

In Ecuador, promotion of large-scale mining as a main pillar of the development project of the Correa government has triggered conflicts at the local level, as well as intense public debate concerning the relationship between resource extraction and development. While in public debate the positions are usually more polarized, at the actual areas of large-scale mining projects there is much more diversity and ambiguity in the positions of the social actors regarding mining, and in the ways they engage with the state institutions and the extractive industry. In this paper, we critically compare the contexts of two different mining sites in Ecuador, the Project of Mirador in the province of Zamora Chinchipe and Intag, located in the province of Imbabura. Here, we analyze how territorial dynamics play out in these conflicts and their relation to heterogeneous local responses, political positions and claims, more specifically to explain why and how in Intag a strong opposition was constructed, while in Mirador the resistance to mining remained rather weak and divided.

 A validated agent-based model to study the spatial and temporal heterogeneities of malaria incidence in the rainforest environment

Francesco Pizzitutti, William Pan, Alisson Barbieri, J Jaime Miranda, Beth Feingold, Gilvan R. Guedes, Javiera Alarcon-Valenzuela and Carlos F. Mena

Background:  The Amazon environment has been exposed in the last decades to radical changes that have been accompanied by a remarkable rise of both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria.  The malaria transmission process is highly influenced by factors such as spatial and temporal heterogeneities of the environment and individual-based models.

Methods:  This paper presents a validated agent-based model of local-scale malaria transmission.  The model reproduces the environment of a typical riverine village in the northern Peruvian Amazon, where the malaria transmission is highly seasonal and apparently associated with flooding of large areas caused by the neighboring river.  Agents representing humans, mosquitoes and the two species of Plasmodium (P. falciparum and P. vivax) are simulate in a spatially explicit representation of the environment around the village.  The model environment includes: climate, people houses positions and elevation.  A representation of changes in the mosquito breeding areas extension caused by the river flooding is also included in the simulation environment.

Results:  A calibration process was carried out to reproduce the variations of the malaria monthly incidence over a period of 3 years.  The calibrated model is also able to reproduce the spatial heterogeneities of local scale malaria transmission.  A “what if” eradication strategy scenario is proposed; if the mosquito breeding sites are eliminated through  mosquito larva habitat management in a buffer area extended at least 200 m around the village, the malaria transmission is eradicated from the village.

Conclusions:  The use of agent-based models can reproduce effectively the spatiotemporal variations of the malaria transmission in a low endemicity environment dominated by river floodings like in the Amazon

Keywords:  Agent-based model, Malaria, Amazon, Low endemicity, Anopheles darling, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum. 



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