The future of Yasuni National Park has been decided: oil will be extracted.
Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park — potentially the most biodiverse area of the entire planet — will be drilled for oil. The plan to pay the government of Ecuador in exchanged for prohibiting natural resource extraction in the region fell through due to a lack of commitment from prospective donor countries.
As we’ve previously reported in 2010 and again in 2012, an initiative was started in 2007 in which Ecuador would be paid $3.6 billion by a group of international donors to leave an estimated 850 million barrels of crude oil in the earth beneath Yasuni. This amount of money is approximately half of what the oil store has been valued at.
But this money never materialized.
This initiative lost a lot of steam when Germany pulled out the $50 million they had previously committed, and then Spain, Italy, Australia, Belgium, and others followed suit. Only $13 million — from private donors and the UN — ever actually made it to Ecuador.
Yasuni National Park is quite possibly the most biodiverse area of the entire planet, and is also home to two indigenous groups who are may still contain uncontacted tribes. Oil extraction could pose a major threat to both the flora, fauna, and cultures living in the region.
The failure to attract intergovernmental institutions and governments was effectively a nail in the coffin for the ambitious concept, which banked on the desire of Western governments to keep 407 million metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere while protecting an area of forest that scientists say may be the richest in the Amazon.
On Thursday, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa shelved the plan to hold off on exploiting Yasuni, and opened 1% of the park up for oil extraction.
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