The Ya­suni Ini­tia­tive:

Ecuador wants us to view a national re­source as a global trea­sure, and are ask­ing for money to pre­serve it.

Element - - Environment - By Manuela Fer­nan­dez de Cor­dova

The Ya­suni ini­tia­tive is a pro­posal pre­sented by the Govern­ment of Ecuador, based on the com­mit­ment to keep large oil re­serves un­der­ground in­def­i­nitely in the Ya­suni National Park, lo­cated in the heart of the Ama­zon rain­for­est.

The Ya­suni Ini­tia­tive will stop 407 mil­lion tones of CO2 emis­sions by keep­ing oil re­serves un­ex­ploited. This is the equiv­a­lent of the an­nual to­tal CO2 emis­sions of Brazil and France.

Ya­suni National Park is con­sid­ered to be the most bio­di­verse place on the planet. It was des­ig­nated by UNESCO as a World Bio­sphere Re­serve in 1989. It is one of the least ex­plored, un­tainted ar­eas of vir­gin rain­for­est still re­main­ing in the Ama­zon Basin. It cov­ers 928,000 hectares which is equiv­a­lent to the size of Le­banon.

Ya­suni Park is lo­cated in the in­ter­sec­tion of the Ama­zon, the An­dean Moun­tains and the Equa­tor, where South Amer­i­can`s am­phib­ian, birds, mam­mals and vas­cu­lar plant di­ver­sity all reach their max­i­mum lev­els. One sin­gle hectare in Ya­suni con­tains more than 655 tree species, (a greater amount than in the whole of North Amer­ica) and an es­ti­mated 100,000 in­sect species (the high­est con­cen­tra­tion on the planet).

The Ya­suni area is also home to two in­dige­nous cul­tures liv­ing in vol­un­tary iso­la­tion – the Ta­gaeri and Tarom­e­nane, both part of the Wao­rani eth­nic­ity. This iso­la­tion al­lows them to re­tain their cul­ture, be­liefs and their sym­bi­otic re­la­tion to the jun­gle in a way that is truly unique and pre­cious in a world of glob­al­i­sa­tion. The im­pact of oil and log­ging in­dus­tries in neigh­bor­ing re­gions has dec­i­mated not only the environment but the in­dige­nous Ama­zonic com­mu­ni­ties and their cul­tures. Ya­suni re­mains one of the last bas­tions for pre­serv­ing life in a pure un­touched state.

In or­der to ac­com­plish its ob­jec­tives, Ecuador is seek­ing sup­port for Ya­suni from gov­ern­ments, foun­da­tions, the pri­vate sec­tor and the pub­lic at large. The Ya­suni Trust Fund was es­tab­lished by the Govern­ment of Ecuador and the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme UNDP on Au­gust 3rd 2010. This Trust Fund will serve as a mech­a­nism to chan­nel con­tri­bu­tions from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and en­sure that the funds are used ef­fec­tively and trans­par­ently for the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties pro­posed by the Ini­tia­tive: pre­vent­ing de­for­esta­tion and con­serv­ing ecosys­tems; water man­age­ment in the Ama­zon basin and ap­pro­pri­ate man­age­ment of one mil­lion hectares of for­est, as well as sup­port fu­ture re­search, sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion.

So far, Ya­suni Ini­tia­tive has re­ceived con­tri­bu­tions from coun­tries such as Chile, Colom­bia, Peru, Spain, and from many enterprises, foun­da­tions and in­di­vid­u­als. The tar­get for Ya­suni con­tri­bu­tion is 100 mil­lion US dol­lars. At this point in time over half the money has been pledged, but the clock is tick­ing as oil re­serves dry up else­where.

De­struc­tion of for­est and the environment is a global prob­lem. The idea that the de­vel­oped world can help pre­serve what is left through fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tions to the de­vel­op­ing world (coun­tries such as Ecuador) is an untested con­cept, how­ever, the Ya­suni Ini­tia­tive is show­ing signs that this could be a vi­able so­lu­tion to the con­tin­u­ally mount­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems the world is fac­ing.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion or con­tri­bu­tions con­tact: www.ya­

The Ya­suni National Park of Ecuador is among the most bio­di­verse re­gions on earth, in­clud­ing two in­dige­nous cul­tures.

Manuela Fer­nan­dez de Cor­dova (pic­tured left) is the Third Sec­re­tary for the Ecuado­rian Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs and Com­merce

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