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Heart of Ecuador’s Yasuni, home to uncontacted tribes, opens for oil drilling

05 / 07 / 2019, Mongabaycom News

QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park sits in a unique position on the equator, between the Andes mountain range and the Amazon rainforest, which has allowed a rich and distinct biodiversity to flourish. The region is surrounded by towering ceibo and mahogany trees, emblematic of the area, as well as hundreds of endemic birds, mammals and amphibians. Traveling down the Yasuni River at the far east of the park, it’s hard to really fathom this diversity that surrounds you, as lush green jungle extends for miles on either side. Yet conservationists are worried. Earlier this year, the Ecuadoran government approved two new controversial plans to drill for oil farther into Yasuni National Park, which will also encroach on the Intangible Zone (known by its Spanish acronym ZITT), a special area within the park created to protect the two uncontacted indigenous nations that live there, the Tagaeri and Taromenane. In April, the Ministry of Environment approved plans to open two platforms of the Ishpingo oil field, the third phase of the controversial Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) project. Ishpingo is the most contentious field in the ITT project as it is the largest and overlaps with the ZITT and its buffer zone, an area 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide that surrounds the ZITT. Then in May, President Lenín Moreno signed a new decree that allows oil platforms to be constructed within the Intangible Zone’s buffer area, which was previously forbidden. Yasuni National Park has long been controversial for being an area rich in…

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