Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. It also has a lot of oil reserves at its national parks. It has been difficult for Ecuador to maintain the balance between oil exploration and preserving the national forests.
In just the Yasuni National Park, located in the northeastern part of Ecuador there are 121 different species of reptiles, 150 species of frogs, 596 species of birds and 187 species of mammals and 4 different types of tribal population living there.
But Yasuni may soon look very different. It is believed that close to 850 million barrels of oil lie beneath the park. Oil mining companies want to extract the oil despite the risks to the environment.
Another facet of Ecuador is that more than a quarter of its population lives below the poverty line, and their average daily income is just $26. Money coming-in from oil companies can help the people earn better and live better lives.
The influx of the oil companies will affect both the wildlife and the people. Some researchers and scientists believe that if done with care, and under strict regulation (that they believe can be imposed now) - oil extraction can coexist with a protected biodiversity of the various species and the indigenous population.
We need to be careful that history doesn't repeat itself. In the 1960s there was oil extraction at the Lago Agrio oil fields of Ecuador. This had caused serious ecological problems resulting in water pollution, deforestation and dislocation of the indigenous people. In 2011 Ecuador's court had fined Chevron the oil mining company a fine of $8 Billion to cleanup the pollution. However, in March 2014, the US court overturned the fine because it found there was misconduct and corruption involved in the 2011 judgement.
It is true that there may have been misconduct involved the judgement that fined Chevron. Now, Chevron does not have to pay the fine. It remains to be seen who will cleanup the ecological damage that oil exploration has caused. After all, the ecological damage effects all of us.
The new oil exploration rules are more stringent. It is debatable whether the oil companies will comply with the stringent requirements needed because it will increase the price of oil extraction. Can Yasuni be preserved as the pristine and biodiverse place on earth as it is today? Will the Lago Agrio oil field mess be cleaned up?
deforestation: clearance or clearing is the removal of a forest so the land can be used for other purposes
dislocation: moving of people or object from its original place
ecological: The science of the relationships between organisms and their environments.
facet: one side or aspect of something