Imperiled Yasuni Rainforest Gets Needed Publicity

In the January edition of National Geographic magazine, we were pleased to see extensive coverage of one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth: Yasuni National Park. in 1979 and declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1989, Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park covers an area of 962,000 hectares in the basin of the upper Napo River in the western Amazon region. There are at least 2,274 species of trees and shrubs, and up to 655 species have been found in a single hectare; this is more than the total number of tree species in the United States, Canada and Mexico combined.

Yasuni is also known for its indigenous population. The Amazonian Quichua or Napurunas people, the Waorani people, and two groups in voluntary isolation – the Tagaeri and Taromenane – all reside here. The Waorani people occupy most of the Yasuni National Park. Their reputation as brave and fierce warriors is widely known.

The park is essential to the protection of all the cultures and species that dwell within. Yet, the Yasuni National Park faces many threats to its preservation. The park sits atop massive oil reserves. The impact of existing oil wells within the park and the opening of roads for oil exploration have been damaging. And oil companies are clamoring at the gates to drill more wells. Other threats include illegal timber extraction and climate change.

Even with all of the aforementioned threats, a historic opportunity has arisen to secure this natural wonder for generations to come. In 2007, the Ecuadorian government addressed the United Nations and said that they would be willing to keep Yasuni’s massive oil deposits underground indefinitely. All of this hinges on whether the international community will be willing to do its part in providing at least half of the money that the government would receive in the case of exporting the oil – money that Ecuador badly needs for development.

In partnership with the United Nations Development Group, Earth Day Network is helping to make this commitment a reality. If you are a resident of the United States, you can make a tax-deductible donation to the Yasuni Trust Fund through our organization.