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Abstract

“Deforestation” in this chapter is used according to the FAO (2001) definition: it is the conversion of forest to another land use or the long-term reduction of the tree canopy cover below the minimum 10% threshold. This implies that areas where trees have been removed as a result of harvesting or logging are not considered as “deforestation”. Even if the structure or function of a forest is heavily disturbed by harvesting operations, the stand remains a forest as long as it has a tree canopy cover of more than 10% or is expected to regenerate naturally or artificially in the long run. So “deforestation” in the sense of the FAO definition does not incorporate the degradation of forests included in some other definitions, e.g. Myers (1994). Correspondingly the replacement of old-growth forests by plantations or their temporary use by shifting cultivators is not considered as destruction or deforestation. Only a complete change of land use or the destruction of forest cover which prevents its recovery to more than 10% crown cover enters the FAO statistics as “deforestation” or “forest loss”.
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Chapter 4
Ecuador Suffers the Highest Deforestation
Rate in South America
R. Mosandl, S. Günter, B. Stimm, and M. Weber
4.1 Introduction
“Deforestation ” in this chapter is used according to the FAO (2001) definition: it
is the conversion of forest to another land use or the long-term reduction of the tree
canopy cover below the minimum 10% threshold. This implies that areas where
trees have been removed as a result of harvesting or logging are not considered as
“deforestation”. Even if the structure or function of a forest is heavily disturbed by
harvesting operations, the stand remains a forest as long as it has a tree canopy
cover of more than 10% or is expected to regenerate naturally or artificially in the
long run. So “deforestation” in the sense of the FAO definition does not incorpo-
rate the degradation of forests included in some other definitions, e.g. Myers
(1994). Correspondingly the replacement of old-growth forests by plantations or
their temporary use by shifting cultivators is not considered as destruction or
deforestation. Only a complete change of land use or the destruction of forest
cover which prevents its recovery to more than 10% crown cover enters the FAO
statistics as “deforestation” or “forest loss”.
Despite this very narrow definition of the FAO, deforestation is the most
important process for a decrease in forest area (FAO 2006). Clearing the forests
for agriculture or infrastructure leads to a decrease of the land category “forests”
and to an increase of the land category “other land”. The same effect – but to a
much lesser extent – is also caused by natural disasters when the affected area is
incapable to regenerate naturally (FAO 2006). An increase of forests can happen
either through afforestation or by natural expansion of forests. The net change
rate of forests takes account of four processes: (a) decrease by deforestation, (b)
decrease by natural disasters, (c) increase by afforestation and (d) increase by
natural expansion.
The deforestation rate estimated by FAO in the latest Global Forest Resources
Assessment is the balance of these four processes (FAO 2006).
37
Ecological Studies 198.
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008
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E. Beck et al. (eds.), Gradients in a Tropical Mountain Ecosystem of Ecaudor.
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38 R. Mosandl et al.
4.2 Deforestation in South America
According to Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005 the global net change in
forest area during the period 2000–2005 is estimated at −7.3 million ha/year
(FAO 2006). The continent with the largest net loss of forest area in this period was
South America, which suffered a net loss of forests of about −4.3 million ha/year
(corresponding to a rate of −0.5% of the remaining forest area). Brazil’s forests
alone lost 3.1 million ha/year in this period but in relative numbers had lower defor-
estation rates than Ecuador, which suffers the highest rate (−1.7%) within South
America. Obviously large net changes in forest area are occurring in the tropical
and subtropical regions of South America (FAO 2006) with a very high biodiversity
which is very likely to be reduced by the high deforestation rate. According to a
prediction model of Koopowitz et al. (1994), habitat conversion caused by defor-
estation leads to species extinction rates that range up to 63 species/year. It is
remarkable that this high extinction rate is predicted for Ecuador.
4.3 Deforestation in Ecuador
The extent of forest in Ecuador in 2005 was 10.8 million ha, which represents 39%
of the land area (FAO 2006). This percentage is relatively low compared with other
countries in South America, taking into account that the average forest cover rate
of South America is 48% (FAO 2006). It is assumed that more than 90% of
Ecuador’s surface had been covered by forests originally (Wunder 2000). This
implies that before human impact occurred on a large scale, the area which today
we call Ecuador must have been covered by more than 25 million ha of forest.
These data are confirmed by Cabarle et al. (1989), who estimated the original forest
cover of Ecuador to be 26 million ha. Two major historical deforestation processes
have contributed to the reduction of the forest area: first a long-lasting deforestation
in the Sierra (areas with an elevation of at least 1200 m a.s.l.) in the pre-Columbian
era and second a rapid forest conversion in the Costa region during the past century
(Wunder 2000). The era in between these two deforestation phases, dominated by
the long Spanish colonial rule, was characterized by an expansion of forests, caused
by the dramatic decrease in population and also in population pressure on the for-
ests following the Spanish conquest. After the declaration of independence in 1822
until the early twentieth century Ecuador’s forest cover was largely preserved
(Wunder 2000). During the cocoa boom from 1900 to the end of the 1920s and
intensified during the banana boom after the Second World War (main period
1950–1965) the coastal lowland forests were cleared for agricultural crops. Cabarle
et al. (1989) estimated the forest cover in 1958 was 17.5 million ha. The corre-
sponding extent of forest must have been about 63% at that time. In 1987 the extent
of forest dropped to 45% (FAO 1994). The main cause for this decrease, besides the
clearing of coastal lowland forests for agricultural crops, was the opening up of the
Oriente, Ecuador’s Amazon region. With the oil boom of the 1970s roads were
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4 Ecuador Suffers the Highest Deforestation Rate in South America 39
build in the Amazonian forest, which attracted agricultural colonization and timber
extraction (Wunder 2000). Subsequently the reduction of forest cover continued
from 43% forest cover in 1990 down to 39% in 2005 (FAO 1993, 2006).
4.4 Reasons for Deforestation
The question arises: what are the causes for the relatively high actual deforestation
rate? The first idea, tracing this back to a high conversion rate of primary forests,
is not confirmed by the data, because the area of primary forests remained
unchanged in recent years (FAO 2006). This is certainly due to the fact that a lot of
primary forests were protected. Ecuador’s forest protection statistics present 21%
of all forests as protected in 2002 (UNEP 2002). So it can be concluded that the
main deforestation must take place in secondary forests. Granting a deforestation
rate of −1.7% means a loss of 198 000 ha/year of secondary forests (FAO 2006).
Not included in the statistics is an unknown area of illegally converted forests. The
most reasonable explanation for these high annual losses is the change in land use.
Mainly secondary forests must have been converted into agricultural land. In fact,
looking at the agropastoral land-use trends in Ecuador there is a dramatic increase
in pastures. From 1972 to 1985 the area of pastures increased from 2.2 million ha to
4.4 million ha and by 1989 pastures covered an area of about 6 million ha (Wunder
2000). This means an annual increase of agropastoral land of 244 000 ha during the
first period of that time and 182 000 ha in the second period. Assuming that
the conversion of forests into agropastoral land continued in the 1990s (on the same
scale as before) then the increase in agropastoral land today is still equal to
the decrease in forest cover. As cattle ranching is concentrated in the Sierra there
are strong hints that the main forest losses are occurring especially in this region.
Deforestation had devastating effects in parts of the coast, e.g. the elimination of
over 70% of the costal mangroves (Mecham 2001) but in general in the Costa,
where commercial crops are cultivated, the forest losses were lower. This is also
due to the fact that, in contrast to pastures which tripled their areas from 1972 to
1989, crop lands expanded only slightly during this period (Wunder 2000).
The driving forces for the conversion into pastures are very likely rooted in
socio-economic reasons. Slow growth of human capital and progressive degradation
of natural capital over time is at the heart of the frustrated development experience
for Ecuador and Latin America (Lopez 2003). Deforestation in Ecuador is also
related to tenure insecurity (Southgate et al. 1991) and the convergence of local
populations in an economic system which relies on the unsustainable exploitation
of natural resources (Sierra and Stallings 1998). Long-term effects, caused by
insufficient investment in education (Godoy et al. 1988), or the consequences of
concentrating on short-turn returns, are further driving forces of deforestation
(Wunder 2000).
Besides the high change in land use from forests to pastures there is another
cause for the high deforestation rate in Ecuador: while in other countries of South
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40 R. Mosandl et al.
America the conversion of forests is mitigated by high reforestation efforts, no
substantial areas were reforested in Ecuador during recent years. The plantation
area in Ecuador is growing very slowly (FAO 2006). In the period from 2000 to
2005 it increased only by 560 ha/year (for comparison: in Chile the increase was
61 000 ha/year in the same period).
4.5 Conclusions
Identifying the causes for the high deforestation rate in Ecuador shows how to
overcome this problem. There are two possible ways: first, the conversion of forests
into pastures could be made unattractive, e.g. by an ecologically and economically
sustainable forest management (see Chapter 26 in this volume), and second the
reforestation of degraded land could be increased (Lamb 1998; see Chapter 34 in
this volume). Both ways should be promoted by the government setting incentives
for sustainable forest management of plantations and natural forests .
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... The Andes region has also suffered severe deforestation such that approximately 40% of the original vegetation has been lost (Cuesta et al., 2017). Much of the remaining primary forest in the region occurs in areas with extremely steep slopes that are inappropriate for agriculture or harvesting timber or in small preserves (Marian et al., 2020;Mosandl et al., 2008;Tapia-Armijos et al., 2015;Wunder, 1996). Villages, towns and cities in the region are often packed in small valleys, exacerbating demands on nearby natural resources. ...
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... From 2000 to 2005, Ecuador annually lost 1.7% of the original forest cover, which was the highest annual deforestation rate of South America during this period (FAO, 2006;Mosandl et al., 2008). Most of the current deforestation in Ecuador is attributable to the conversion of secondary forests to pastures (Mosandl et al., 2008). ...
... From 2000 to 2005, Ecuador annually lost 1.7% of the original forest cover, which was the highest annual deforestation rate of South America during this period (FAO, 2006;Mosandl et al., 2008). Most of the current deforestation in Ecuador is attributable to the conversion of secondary forests to pastures (Mosandl et al., 2008). From 1972 to 1989, the pasture area in Ecuador tripled (Wunder, 2000). ...
... Moreover, the common practice of pasture burning favors the ingression of bracken ferns, which further decreases the pasture value and contributes to its final abandonment at many locations (Roos et al., 2013). Reforestation is one option to recover the degraded land, counteract the high deforestation rate, and mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration (Cunningham et al., 2014;Mosandl et al., 2008). However, the site conditions of the Amazon region render reforestation a great challenge because the strongly weathered and overexploited soils show low fertility (Mainville et al., 2006), hampering the establishment of afforestations. ...
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The literature suggests that biochar increases the fertility of degraded, nutrient‐poor tropical soils. We hypothesized that the addition of biochar (i) increases tree growth in a plantation on Ultisols in the south Ecuadorian Amazon region, (ii) reduces litterfall during the dry season because the soil remains moister, and (iii) improves the benefit‐cost ratio of the plantation. We grew two tree species, the native leguminous Schizolobium parahyba var. amazonicum (Ducke) Barneby and the exotic Gmelina arborea Roxb and used a full factorial split‐split‐plot design of all treatments for both tree species at each of two sites. The treatments included the amendment of mineral fertilizer plus lime, 3 and 6 t ha–1 biochar, and control. The plots were replicated 3–4 times. Tree height (TH), basal diameter (BD), and diameter at breast height (DBH) were measured several times during 51 months after planting in September 2009 and litterfall during 12 months (March 2012‐February 2013). The site and the mineral fertilizer plus lime treatment had significant effects on TH, BD, and DBH. The amendment of mineral fertilizer plus lime increased TH, BD, and DBH by 47, 43, and 58%, respectively, relative to the control. The litterfall of G. arborea was on average 84% higher than that of S. parahyba. The amendment of biochar did not significantly influence TH, BD, DBH, and litterfall. The benefit‐cost ratio of wood production was >1 in the mineral fertilizer plus lime treatment and controls, but <1 in the biochar treatments and decreased with increasing addition of biochar. Our results demonstrate that the assumption that biochar can be used to improve the fertility of degraded Amazon soils cannot be generalized. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... However, there is little evidence that this call for conservation has resulted in sufficient meaningful change for the region of Los Cedros-in fact, quite the opposite. Instead, during this time frame, Cotacachi Canton has lost significant forest cover (Figure 10), as has Ecuador generally [87,168,169]. In stark contrast, Los Cedros-which has onsite, conservation-oriented staff-has well withstood the traditional pressures of timbering and settlement, as evidenced by its increase in forest cover during a time of net forest loss in the Cotacachi Canton. ...
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... A pesar de la maravillosa riqueza y diversidad de los paisajes del Ecuador, existen una serie de acciones humanas que están siendo decisivas en la destrucción de estos espacios vitales en las últimas décadas (Lambin et al., 2003;INIAP, 2008Thies et al., 2014, Mosandl et al., 2008Yáñez-Muñoz et al., 2014). La deforestación y el cambio de uso del suelo para agricultura, ganadería, vialidad, industrialización y urbanización han modificado la conformación y estructura del paisaje natural, dando lugar a la fragmentación ecológica del hábitat, a la generación de parches y con ello, la división de poblaciones de flora y fauna, que a su vez reducen la funcionalidad del paisaje, la diversidad a diferentes escalas y los servicios ecosistémicos (Fahrig, 2003;Morláns, 2005Morláns, , 2014Navarro et al., 2005). ...
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La Carta del Paisaje es un instrumento voluntario de concertación entre agentes de un territorio orientado a promover la gestión sostenible del paisaje y el bienestar de sus habitantes mediante el establecimiento de principios, objetivos, acuerdos y estrategias de gestión. Por este motivo, la Carta del Paisaje no es una simple declaración de principios, sino un documento que compromete a las partes y a la sociedad en su conjunto a un trabajo mancomunado para alcanzar los compromisos propuestos. Estas reflexiones, nos conducen a pensar en nuevas formas de planificar territorios, ciudades, comunidades rurales y barriales, en donde se revalorice al paisaje, especialmente el más próximo y se lo vincule al desarrollo de la población.
... Instead, during this time frame, Cotacachi Canton has lost significant forest cover ( fig. 10), as has Ecuador generally (Dodson & Gentry, 1991;Mosandl et al., 2008;Tapia-Armijos et al., 2015). In stark contrast, Los Cedros has well withstood the traditional pressures of timbering and settlement, as evidenced by its increase of forest cover during a time of net forest loss in the Cotacachi Canton. ...
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We analyzed a set of historical data from rapid vegetation inventories in a tropical montane cloud forest in northern Andean Ecuador. Trees in plots from several types of forest were counted and measured, including: (1) primary forest, including mature and recently closed-canopy sites and naturally formed gaps, (2) abandoned pasture, and (3) abandoned, intensively-farmed sites. The goal of the study was to understand in a specific period of time the similarities and differences among natural and anthropogenic disturbances and their potential long term effect on the forest plant community. We found that mature and intermediate close canopy sites are similar. Primary forest sites were observed as resilient to gap-forming disturbances: naturally-formed gaps are quickly colonized by old-forest-associated plant species, and return to an old-forest-type community of trees in a short time. In contrast, forests regenerating from anthropogenic disturbance appear to have multiple possible states: some regenerating forest sites where the anthropogenic disturbance were low are coming to closely resemble old-forest-type communities, but some where the anthropogenic disturbance was intense appear to be changing in a very different direction, which does not resemble any other vegetation community type currently in the forest. A major predictor of present ecological state is the type of land use before reforestation: pastures can occasionally transition back to the pre-disturbance state of forest. More intensively used sites were not observed to return to a pre-disturbance ecological state, instead forming a new and different kind of forest, dominated by a different community of trees. We examined tree-seedling communities to understand the trajectory of the forest into the future, and find that new forest types may be forming that do not resemble any existing associations. We also found that Los Cedros is extremely diverse in tree species. We estimate approximately 500 species of tree in only the small southeastern area of the reserve that has been explored scientifically. Additionally, the forest tree community shows extremely rapid distance decay (beta-diversity), approaching near complete turn-over in the limited spatial extent of the study. This suggests that many of other tree species remain to be observed in the reserve, in addition to the 350+ that are directly observed in the present study, including new observations of species with IUCN threatened-endangered status. We also highlight the conservation value of Reserva Los Cedros, which has managed to reverse deforestation within its boundaries despite a general trend of extensive deforestation in the surrounding region, and to protect large, contiguous areas of highly-endangered Andean primary cloud forest habitat.
... Ecuador es un ejemplo notable de América del Sur en cuanto a deforestación y degradación de suelos, esto debido a que el país ha perdido ~60 % de su bosque nativo [19,20]; situación que lo sitúa como el país con el porcentaje más bajo de bosque natural de todos los países de América del Sur [21]. Asimismo, se estima que en el Ecuador el 47 % del territorio presenta problemas de degradación de la tierra [22], siendo la región amazónica, con un 44 %, la que mayor porcentaje de degradación presenta; seguida por la región Costa (30 %) y la región Sierra (25,9 %) [23], [24]. ...
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INTRODUCCIÓN. La constante degradación de los suelos a nivel global es un problema de suma importancia, el cual en la actualidad se está afrontando con diversas propuestas de restauración, entre las cuales se encuentra el uso de la madera rameal fragmentada (MRF). OBJETIVO. La presente investigación analiza la variación de diferentes factores físicos y químicos que nos permiten inferir la viabilidad de la MRF como una propuesta para la enmienda edáfica de suelos degradados en los paisajes andinos. MÉTODO. Para ello se recolectaron muestras de suelo de dos parcelas, una con tratamiento y una sin tratamiento, muestras a las cuales se les realizó un análisis de fertilidad con cuyos resultados se procedió a analizar la variación temporal y espacial, utilizando un ANOVA y realizando una ponderación de distancia inversa (IDW) respectivamente. RESULTADOS. Nuestros resultados muestran una mejor condición y calidad del suelo en la parcela con tratamiento, así como diferencias significativas en los indicadores de calidad del suelo. DISCUSIÓN Y CONCLUSIONES. Los resultados obtenidos en esta investigación respaldan el uso de la MRF como una enmienda edáfica efectiva para el tratamiento de suelos andinos degradados.
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Payments for Environmental Services (PES) are instruments which seem well suited for forest conservation. However, their impact on reducing deforestation might be weakened by negligible additionality and leakage effects; the first refers to the low variation in net deforestation rates even in the absence of PES, and the second refers to the displaced deforestation behavior to other areas not covered by PES. For the case of Ecuador, we examine both issues by assessing the historical deforestation trend of selected PES-enrolled areas and that of their adjacent areas to identify deforestation patterns before and after PES implementation. We analyze the additional effect of PES on reducing deforestation by comparison to a baseline as well as to comparable reference sites at two different spatial scales. We also analyze potential leakage effects of PES by comparing deforestation development in adjacent areas. We show that PES has achieved marginally low conservation impacts in enrolled areas with an average difference in net deforestation rates of 0.02 percent points over a period of 28 years. Overall, PES-enrolled areas depict lower annual net deforestation rates than unenrolled areas, albeit at a negligible rate, and there is also some evidence that deforestation decreased in adjacent areas after PES implementation. Additionally, there exists a statistically significant linear increasing deforestation trend in adjacent areas as distance increases from the PES-enrolled area. Our empirical results, however, raise the suspicion that the choice of PES-enrolled areas might have been influenced by self-selection.
... En Ecuador, las tasas de deforestación han sido las más altas en América del Sur por más de 20 años, con tasas anuales desde 1,5% para 1990 -2000 hasta 1,8% para 2001-2010(FAO, 2011 15 . Actividades como la expansión de la frontera agrícola, tala comercial, desarrollo de infraestructura, producción de aceite de palma, plantaciones de banano y cacao, y concesiones de minería y petróleo han sido discutidas como posibles razones de la deforestación y degradación forestal en Ecuador (Mosandl et al., 2008;Sierra, 2013). La deforestación y degradación forestal afectan no sólo al medio ambiente sino también el bienestar de la sociedad. ...
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En este capítulo se examina las preferencias y la disposición al pago (DAP) de hogares en Ecuador sobre un programa propuesto para la conservación forestal que tiene como objetivo evitar la deforestación anual de 500 km2 en Ecuador. Se utilizó un cuestionario que fue aplicado a nivel nacional siguiendo las pautas establecidas en la literatura pertinente, finalmente se levantó un total de 976 de entrevistas presenciales durante septiembre del 2017. Entre los principales resultados se expone que cerca del 98% de los hogares encuestados consideran que conviene apoyar el programa propuesto. Para la conservación forestal, un promedio conservador de la DAP media por mes y por hogar es de USD 3,17, lo cual indica un apoyo sólido a los programas de conservación forestal basados en incentivos. Los hogares encuestados prefieren, además, priorizar la implementación del programa de conservación para bosques primarios en la región Costa. Las preferencias de los hogares podrían ser incorporadas en el diseño de programas de conservación forestal (ej., programa Socio Bosque).
... En Ecuador, las tasas de deforestación han sido las más altas en América del Sur por más de 20 años, con tasas anuales desde 1,5% para 1990 -2000 hasta 1,8% para 2001 -2010 (FAO, 2011) 15 . Actividades como la expansión de la frontera agrícola, tala comercial, desarrollo de infraestructura, producción de aceite de palma, plantaciones de banano y cacao, y concesiones de minería y petróleo han sido discutidas como posibles razones de la deforestación y degradación forestal en Ecuador (Mosandl et al., 2008;. La deforestación y degradación forestal afectan no sólo al medio ambiente sino también el bienestar de la sociedad. ...
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La Universidad Estatal Amazónica (UEA) de Puyo-Ecuador y el Instituto Johann Heinrich von Thünen (IT) de Alemania, suscribieron un convenio específico que rige el periodo desde el 27 de junio de 2016 hasta el 30 de junio del 2019 para la ejecución del proyecto: “Paisajes forestales en los trópicos” (LaForeT por sus siglas en inglés). Adicionalmente, se incorporó a la Universidad Técnica Luis Vargas Torres (UTLVT) de Esmeraldas, para formar parte del proyecto principalmente en la zona del noroccidente del Ecuador. El proyecto busca complementar esfuerzos interinstitucionales con el objeto de evaluar la influencia de las herramientas políticas internacionales y nacionales sobre los procesos de deforestación y reforestación, medios de vida, silvicultura sostenible, uso del suelo, mecanismos de pagos por servicios ambientales y gobernanza forestal, tomando como base de estudio los bosques tropicales de las provincias de Napo, Pastaza y Orellana en la Amazonía Central del Ecuador (ACE) y Esmeraldas en el Noroccidente del Ecuador (NOE). Como resultados, el proyecto levantó 1181 encuestas a nivel de hogares, 801 en la ACE y 382 en el NOE, en 73 comunidades. También se levantaron 156 parcelas temporales de monitoreo forestal y de suelos, 102 en la ACE y 54 el NOE. Además, se realizaron 80 entrevistas dirigidas a actores nacionales y locales para evaluar los mecanismos de gobernanza forestal. Resultados preliminares de este proyecto se presentan en todos los capítulos subsiguientes, con perspectivas políticas para los tomadores de decisiones, académicos e investigadores interesados en manejo de paisajes forestales y el desarrollo sostenible de las poblaciones locales que habitan en los trópicos.
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