Ecuador vowed on Friday to press ahead with a plan to shield the Yasuni reserve in the Amazon jungle from oil companies after international donors pledged more than $100 million in exchange for the government not permitting exploration.
OPEC-member Ecuador says that by not extracting the heavy oil under Yasuni, some 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide will not be released into the atmosphere and a jungle area with more tree species than North America will be better protected.
Ecuador is highly dependent on oil exports for economic growth. Leftist President Rafael Correa sought to put pressure on donors, saying that unless they chipped in to protect Yasuni, his cash-strapped government would draw up a plan for oil extraction.
Launched in mid-2010, the Yasuni project was lauded by foreign governments and environmental groups as an innovative way to fight global warming.
But Ecuador's government has struggled to turn that excitement ...