On August 27, 2013, Indigenous and environmentalist activists took to the streets of Ecuador to protest against a reversal in government plans not to drill for oil in the ecologically sensitive YasunÃ National Park in the eastern Amazon basin.
The protests came after Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa announced on August 15 the failure of his YasunÃ - ITT initiative.
Experts estimate that the Ishpingo Tiputini Tambococha or ITT oilfields in the YasunÃ National Park hold nearly one trillion barrels of oil, about one-fifth of Ecuador's total reserves. Its extraction could generate more than $7 billion in revenue over a 10-year period.
UNESCO designated the park as a world biosphere reserve in 1989 because it contains 100,000 species of animals, many which are not found anywhere else in the world. Each hectare of the forest reportedly contains more tree species than in all of North America.
Not drilling in the pristine rainforest would both protect its rich mix of wildlife and plant life and help halt climate change by preventing the release of more than 400 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
According to the YasunÃ - ITT plan, in exchange for forgoing drilling in the park, international donors would contribute $3.6 billion, half of the estimated value of the petroleum, to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for health care, education, and other social programs.
Despite broad local and international support for the plan, donors were not forthcoming with contributions. After six years, the fund had only collected $13 million in donations with $116 million more in pledges.
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