Ecuador raises money to preserve nature reserve


A golden headed lion tamarin monkey, native to the Amazon rainforest.


Ben Stansall

Ecuador has raised enough funds to continue with an innovative plan to preserve a pristine nature reserve.

Yasuni National Park has more mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species in a 100 square-mile area than any other spot in the hemisphere, concluded a team of international scientists.

Because it didn't freeze during the last ice age, it became a refuge for thousands of species that eventually repopulated the Amazon.

But it also sits on top of 900 million barrels of untapped crude oil.

Under a innovative, UN-backed plan, Ecuador said it would leave the 722-square-mile oil field untouched, if the international community covered at least 50 percent of the lost revenue.

Ivonne Baki, the project coordinator, told the Miami Herald that the project had survived its first deadline by raising $100 million before the end of the year.

The country hopes to raise about $350 million per year over the next 12 to 13 years.

The project is designed to keep 407 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere.

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