by lindastcyr
Categories: Causes, Environment.
Photo: Flickr/dermoidhome

Ecuador’s Yasuni rainforest is home to more species of animals, plants, and insects than anywhere else in the world. It also happens to be home to 846 million barrels of oil worth a whopping $7.2 billion in revenue. The oil is buried beneath the Yasuni rainforest and the Ecuador government wants to keep it that way. Instead of digging up the oil and creating a revenue for the country, Ecuador has asked the developed world to pay to keep the oil where it is.

The Yasuni national park sits near the equator between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest. It is also home to two isolated tribes; the Taromenane and Tagaeri. The oil was found in 2007 and represents around 20% of Ecuador’s oil reserves. Ecuador offered a bold idea last year to keep Yasuni untouched– raise money from developed countries to stop rainforest oil development.

The country has been seeking $3.6 billion, half of the revenue that could be generated, to guarantee that the one million-hectare rainforest reserve will remain untouched for a decade.

Joseph Zacuni, International Coordinator of Friends of the Earth International’s Climate, Justice and Energy Programme said of the proposal, “Not only could it pave the way for interesting initiatives to keep fossil fuels in the ground, there could be similar initiatives or moratoria – on logging and sustainable forest conservation, for example.”

Many other organizations and countries believe Ecuador’s proposal is a bold one, but a good one. Germany pledged $838 million to Ecuador and it is expected that Spain, Sweden, France and Switzerland will make generous contributions. However the deadline for funds is coming up fast at just 4 months away. If Ecuador doesn’t get the pledges it needs then the plan will fall short and could open the door to ruining the Yasuni rainforest.

Ecuador made the pledge last year to keep Yasuni free from oil drilling, but if the $3.6 billion from the international community does not come through for renewable energy and social welfare projects the proposal may be retracted. If that happens and drilling for oil begins in the region it would harm the rainforest, mess with the lives of the people who live in Yasuni, and could really harm the environment when 470 million tons of carbon dioxide is released from the ground.

Here’s hoping that the “little country with a big plan” can get the international support it needs to keep the rainforest intact.

About lindastcyr

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. When she isn’t writing or raising her kids with her life partner, she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and bringing attention to human rights violations all over the world.

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  • Sonia

    It’s makes me happy to hear of countries wanting to keep their environment in tact instead of destroy it for a quick buck. Well done Ecuador! I hope they can get the money in time.

    They should hit up Warren Buffet or Richard Branson.

  • http://www.ecuadorecovolunteer.org/blog/ Jake

    My girlfriend works as a biologist with the Ministry of Environment in Coca the city next to Yasuni and everyone who works there says that they have already started drilling inside Yasuni National Park but powerful and corrupt interests in the Ecuadorian government are trying to keep the drilling secret.

    If you take a bus in the night between Coca north to Lago Agrio (both Amazonian cities) you will pass 10 – 15 oil refineries in two hours with huge flames spurting from chimneys – really really depressing

  • Alesia

    Does anyone know what company is doing the oil exploration? :(