The Fight to Save the Yasuni National Park
The Ecuadorian government is considering abandoning one of the most ambitious and innovative conservation plans of our times. The Yasuni National Park in Ecuador has been designated a World Biosphere by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO. The Park is about one and a half times the size of Delaware covering 9,820 square kilometers. It is located in the east of the country, between the Napo and Curaray Rivers bordering Peru. The Yasuni is one of the most remote areas on Earth and it is home to indigenous cultures that have been living in voluntary isolation away from the rest of the modern world for centuries. It is extremely rich in biodiversity and holds many secrets that could help humankind and the planet. The Yasuni is comparable to one of the great wonders of the world, the lost library of Alexandria in Egypt. Ecuador is also the custodian of the Galapagos Islands. Below the Yasuni is approximately 846 million barrels of crude oil. Oil is the leading export of Ecuador. The United States is Ecuador's best customer.
The plan by the Ecuadorian government was to leave the oil beneath the Yasuni untouched in perpetuity in exchange for the World's Nations to pay half of the crude's market price of $7.2 billion dollars. Currently, the conservation initiative has only received $336.8 million in pledges of the $3.6 billion required by Ecuador. The top contributors are Italy, Spain, Luxembourg and Germany. The United States so far has remained silent.
Here is what's at stake and who is willing to fight for this World treasure. Countless numbers of undiscovered plant and animal species, 400 million tons of CO2 that will not be removed from the atmosphere, unimaginable scientific information that would benefit humankind and the planet and the preservation of the indigenous peoples home and way of life. The Tagaeri and Taromenane tribes have vowed to defend the forest with their spears, arrows and their lives against the bull dozers and troops.
There will be a terrible price to pay to humanity, to nature and to the indigenous nations if this exploitation of the Yasuni moves forward. The carnage will be unrepairable if we do nothing.
There is no easy answer to any of this. The government of Ecuador owns the minerals under the ground and the indigenous nations control the surface of the land. The government needs the oil to run the country, the indigenous peoples need the lands to survive and the world needs the Yasuni for the health of our planet and for the future of our children and our children's children.
There are vigorous efforts by scientists to catalog what they can before the drilling starts but it may be a case of not enough time and resources to do the job. We may never know what we are losing in the Yasuni. This is why it is critical that we act now to save the forest and the indigenous people's way of life before the damage is done. The Yasuni National Park in the Ecuador Amazon must be preserved.
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