Ecuador dumps Amazon 'nature-for-oil' scheme

Aug 16, 2013
The Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is pictured on November 10, 2012. Ecuador President Rafael Correa said major oil exploration in the unspoilt Amazon nature reserve could go ahead after the failure of an ambitious plan to secure billions of dollars in donations to avoid drilling in the area.

Ecuador President Rafael Correa said major oil exploration in an unspoilt Amazon nature reserve could go ahead after the failure of an ambitious plan to secure billions of dollars in donations to avoid drilling in the area.

In an address to the nation, Correa said Thursday he would seek authorization from lawmakers to allow drilling in a region of the Yasuni National Park, which was designated a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1989.

"With deep sadness but also with absolute responsibility to our people and history, I have had to take one of the hardest decisions of my government," said Correa as he reversed an initiative he had first mooted in 2007.

Three wells in the Yasuni reserve, which is home to several nomadic Indian tribes, are believed to hold around 920 million barrels of oil.

Correa had sought to leave the oil untouched in order to avoid an estimated 400 million tons of being pumped into the Earth's atmosphere—provided the international community would stump up $3.6 billion.

However in the six years since the initiative was launched, Ecuador has received just $13.3 million—equivalent to 0.37 percent of the hoped-for total, Correa said.

"The world has failed us so I have requested that in the national interest the National Assembly allows us to develop Yasuni," Correa said.

Ecuador President Rafael Correa announces major oil exploration in the Yasuni National Park during a live broadcast on August 15, 2013. He said major oil exploration could go ahead after the failure of an ambitious plan to secure billions of dollars in donations to avoid drilling in the area.

Ecuador's 2008 constitution prevents the exploitation of non- in protected areas, but allows the president to request a waiving of the rule if the "national interest" dictates it.

Correa said any development would leave 99 percent of Yasuni untouched.

"The mining activity cannot develop in an area exceeding one percent of the Yasuni National Park," he said.

"This decision is disappointing to all of us but it is necessary. Not to do it would be to the detriment of our people. History will judge us," he said.

Donations to the fund made by or countries including Belgium, Chile, France, Italy, Spain and Indonesia had been placed in a trust administered by the United Nations Development Program and would be returned.

Explore further: Dopamine regulates the motivation to act

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dopamine regulates the motivation to act

Apr 29, 2013

The widespread belief that dopamine regulates pleasure could go down in history with the latest research results on the role of this neurotransmitter. Researchers have proved that it regulates motivation, causing individuals ...

Big cats, wild pigs and short-eared dogs -- oh, my!

Jan 27, 2009

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released photos today from the first large-scale census of jaguars in the Amazon region of Ecuador—one of the most biologically rich regions on the planet.

Recommended for you

Study links California drought to global warming

44 minutes ago

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

2 hours ago

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

China toughens environment law to target polluters

2 hours ago

China on Thursday passed the first amendment to its environment protection law in 25 years, imposing tougher penalties on polluters after the government called for a "war" on pollution.

Sea floor conditions mimicked for drilling platforms

6 hours ago

Mobile jack-up drilling platforms used in the oil and gas industry are at risk of rejection before installation due to their use in harsher environments and deeper waters—but University of WA scientists ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sinister1811
1 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2013
Very disappointing decision, Ecuador.

More news stories

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery

A new study from investigators with the Autism Genome Project, the world's largest research project on identifying genes associated with risk for autism, has found that the comprehensive use of copy number variant (CNV) genetic ...