Ecuador approves Amazon oil drilling
Ecuador has abandoned a
conservation plan that would have
paid the country not to drill for oil in
previously untouched parts of Yasuni
National Park in the Amazon
President Rafael Correa said rich nations
had failed to back the initiative, leaving
Ecuador with no choice but go ahead
The park is one of the most biodiverse
areas in the world.
Hundreds of people gathered in Quito to
protest against Mr Correa's decision.
Oil exploitation has been taking place in
parts of the Yasuni National Park, which
covers nearly 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq
miles), since the 1970s.
Oil is Ecuador's main export. Exploitation
of the new area is expected to start in
the coming weeks.
'World failed us'
The UN-backed scheme to attract
donations to forego drilling in the east of
the park was launched by Mr Correa in
The aim was to raise $3.6bn (£2.3bn),
50% of the value of the reserves in the
(ITT) oil field, over 13 years.
But in a televised news conference on
Thursday, Mr Correa said the initiative
had attracted only a fraction of the cash
it had aimed to raise.
With only $13m so far in actual
donations, he said he had not other
option but to abandon the fund as "the
world has failed us".
"I have signed the executive decree for
the liquidation of the Yasuni-ITT trust
fund and through it, end the initiative,"
the president said in a televised address.
He called the decision one of the most
difficult he had had to take as president.
"It was not charity that we sought from
the international community, but co-
responsibility in the face of climate
change," he said.
The president added that the oil
exploration would leave most of the park
untouched, affecting less that 1% of its
The Yasuni-ITT trust fund says one hectare
in Yasuni contains more tree species than
are native to the whole of North America.
Environmentalists protested about the
president's announcement. According to the
Yasuni-ITT trust fund, 78% of Ecuadorian
are against drilling in the park.
The oilfields beneath Yasuni hold an
estimated 846 million barrels of crude, 20%
of Ecuador's reserve.
Measuring 10,000 sq km, it supports a huge
variety of wildlife, including unique species
of birds, monkeys and amphibians.
Yasuni is also home to indigenous
communities, including the Tagaeri and the
Mr Correa said only $13m of the $3.6bn
due to be raised by 2023 has been raised,
which he felt was not enough.
Environmental activists demonstrated
outside the presidential palace in the
capital, Quito, about the announcement.
According to the Yasuni-ITT trust fund,
78% of Ecuadorian are against drilling in
the park, which is also home to
indigenous communities, including the
Tagaeri and the Taromenane.
The fund, administered by the UN
Development Programme, argues that
stopping the drilling would prevent more
than 400 million tonnes of carbon
dioxide from going into the atmosphere.
A scientist working for the US-based
Center for International Environmental
Law said it was "deeply disappointing"
the funding initiative had failed.
"The Yasuni-ITT Initiative was the lone
exception to the relentless expansion of
hydrocarbon projects deeper into the
most remote tracts of the western
Amazon," Matt Finer told AP.
"Now there is really no viable alternative
to stop the wave of drilling slated for the
most biodiverse region of the world.''