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Crunch Time for Ecuador's Biological Treasure Trove

Source:  Copyright 2010, Inter Press Service
Date:  April 22, 2010
Byline:  Gonzalo Ortiz
Original URL: Status ONLINE

These are decisive days for the Yasuní National Park, one of the world's most biodiverse areas, because of the danger that its wealth of underground oil poses to this unique and fragile ecosystem in Ecuador's Amazon jungle region.

Final efforts are under way on a text agreeing to a trust fund of 3.5 billion dollars, in exchange for leaving the crude untouched, to be signed Thursday Apr. 22 at the World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth taking place in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba.

But Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa stunned environmentalists by saying there is "a great deal of exaggeration" about the impact of drilling for oil on the Yasuní park, located in the northeast of the country, in the course of describing his "Plan B" in the event that the trust fund, under negotiation since 2007, does not pan out.

Correa said the park has "an area of 200,000 hectares, of which only 20 would be exploited," but ...

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