1 Tahrcountry Musings: The Yasuní Dilemma

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Yasuní Dilemma

Want to make a guess about the most bio-diverse forest on earth? Many people I put this question to said Western Ghats.  They are wrong. It is Ecuador's Yasuni National Park. Yasuni has the highest number of species on the planet.  In one hectare of Yasuní, 644 different species of trees have been identified.  Records for amphibians, reptiles, and bats are also unprecedented. It covers about a million hectares.  A single hectare of forest in Yasuní is projected to contain 100,000 different insect species. This biosphere reserve is also the abode of the indigenous Huaorani people.

Yasuni happens to sit atop Ecuador's second largest reserve of crude oil.  There are 846 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves. This is a dilemma for the Government.  Oil lobby has been eying the area for years. The researchers working in the area have waged an international campaign to protect the location.

It was in 2007 that the Ecuador President Rafael Correa offered the proposal in which his country would, in exchange for several billion dollars, keep the oil indefinitely underground.  This proposal has started bearing fruit. United Nations has agreed to oversee a trust fund paid to Ecuador for the project.   On August 3rd 2010 the Government of Ecuador and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a historic deal establishing a trust fund. The funds would be used by the country to conserve its forests, develop renewable energy, and promote social development.

The Yasuni Initiative urgently needs more international funders .This is needed to offset the tremendous pressure from oil lobby.

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