Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oil trumps biodiversity in Ecuador

Rainforest News: In 2007, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa presented the Yasuní ITT Initiative to the United Nations General Assembly, declaring the country’s willingness to forego the exploitation of an estimated 846 million barrels of oil in order to preserve a large swath of the Ecuadorean Amazon. It is a bold and unprecedented plan but, unfortunately, its future is looking bleak.

Although the international community has been generally supportive of the plan, Germany, which had tentatively pledged over 50 million dollars in contribution to the initiative for the next ten years, withdrew its support — putting the entire plan to protect the incredibly biodiverse rainforest in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park in jeopardy.

Yasuní National Park is a 17,000-kilometer section of the Amazon Basin that was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989 due to its unique biodiversity. However, this patch of pristine rainforest also has the misfortune of sitting on top of the country’s second largest supply of oil.

The Yasuní ITT proposal would protect the area from oil exploitation indefinitely by asking the international community for a financial contribution of $3.6 billion, or half the market value of the oil beneath the forest floor, over the next 10 years. The funds would be administered by the United Nations Development Programme under an international trust fund and used by the Ecuadorean government for the development of sustainable energy, preservation of ecosystems and protected areas, reforestation, social development, and job creation....

San Rafael falls in Coca Cayambe National Park, 2008, shot by Bank Track, Wikimedia Commons

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