Thirty years ago, accountant and orchid aficionado Omar Tello quit his job to fulfill a dream of restoring forest habitat for wild orchids in his native Ecuador. Property was worth more money as pasture than as forest, and Tello was viewed as eccentric for trying to restore an ecosystem rather than raising cattle.
At first insects consumed almost everything he planted, but he learned through trial and error.
“I observed the evolution of the forest, when different insects came and fed on specific plants, then I understood that all of the plants were necessary,” says Tello.
Today the habitat Tello restored is the Orchid and Botanical Garden in Puyo, home to many species of insects, mammals, and plants, and a conservation model and research resource.
Tello’s next goal is convincing local government to make the land a protected forest.