This week we feature a update from our project partner in Conservation International Ecuador, Belén Vallejo, Communication Coordinator.Given the importance of mangroves for sustainable development and particularly for CI Ecuador's work, July 26 – recently proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO as the new International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystems – was the perfect occasion to raise awareness of the value of this ecosystem and the urgent need for its conservation.For partners who work jointly with CI to promote mangrove conservation, the celebration of this first international day became of utmost importance. The Ministry of Environment, UNESCO, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), CCPS, HIVOS Institute, Ecuador´s National Army and CI Ecuador launched "Mangrove Week" – a campaign to raise awareness for the huge environmental and social benefits of the ecosystem. The "Mangrove Week" was directly supported by the Blueforest Project, specially for the design and production of a digital campaign that started on early august and is currently been published on social media. With the intention to spread the message widely, CI-Ecuador shared the content with various partners who have circulated the posters on different digital platforms. View the current Facebook posts hereA week of events including an academic forum in two universities of Guayaquil City, an encounter between mangrove concessionaries in Puerto Roma (Gulf of Guayaquil), a forum theater in educational establishments from coastal cities, were part of the week.CI Ecuador organized a photography contest, "Your photo for mangroves", which was evaluated by members of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), Pete Oxford (Great Britain), Octavio Aburto (México), Lucas Bustamante (Ecuador), Claudio Contreras (México), and Jaime Rojo (Spain). CI Ecuador organized an award ceremony on Thursday, July 28 at Yaku Water Park Museum, where the 27 finalist photographs will be exhibited for one month. The top three from each category of the contest were rewarded. In total there were nine winners including the individual photo, photojournalism and conservation categories. This last one focused on a denouncement of the environmental threats to mangrove conservation. View the winning photographs here.The winners were rewarded with stays at lodges in the most beautiful paradises of Ecuador, such as The Galápagos Islands, Yasuní National Park, Cotopaxi and others, thanks to the sponsorship of nine lodges and hotels. The aim of the photo competition was to create awareness photography about the importance of conserving this valuable and threatened ecosystem. More than 150 guests attended the ceremony including representatives of non-governmental organizations, representatives of public institutions, academics, photographers, restaurants and media. Guests enjoyed a tasting of seafood from the mangroves and the Ecuadorian coast, as a courtesy of Zazu, Zfood, Barlovento, The Market and Laboratory restaurants. The chefs of these restaurants have expressed interest in working together with Conservation International and the NAZCA Institute to promote sustainable fisheries in Ecuador – from the promotion of good fishing practices to a sustainable marketing chain to responsible consumption.About CI's mangrove work in EcuadorWith 157,094 hectares of mangrove along its coast side, Ecuador is privileged with ecosystem services that are essential for local populations well being and development. Mangroves from 5 different species with unique flora and fauna constitute a tremendous ecologic value for biodiversity and tourism development. Within that context, CI Ecuador has set mangrove conservation as a top priority for the upcoming years, and increased the project portfolio with this aim. Currently, the Ecuador program implements five different projects focused on mangrove conservation.