Paying Ecuador To Not Drill The Yasuni: Extortion Or Sound Conservation Practice?

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Stephen recently posted about how Ecuador Will Receive $3.6 Billion to Not Drill for Oil. This is a controversial subject that TreeHugger has been covering for a couple of years; many have suggested that it is akin to blackmail, with Ecuador extorting money to leave the oil under what is supposed to be a national park. Hence posts with titles like Ecuador Says Show Me the Money, Or the Rainforest Gets It

But it is a lot more complicated than that.


I was a guest of the Rainforest Alliance a year ago at this time, and saw what happens when the oil companies move in. I also saw alternatives, where they are trained in eco-tourism and work to preserve the rainforest instead of exploiting it. See:

A Look at the Napo Wildlife Center in Amazonia
Sani Lodge: The Choice Between Rainforest and Oilfield
Wildlife of Ecuadorian Amazonia

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A kid stands on pipes of previous oil extractions in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo: Lou Dematteis for the Crude Reflections book.

TreeHugger also has a lot of background on the issue:
Why the World Should Pay Ecuador to Keep its Oil in the Ground
Ecuador Moves Forward with Plan to Not Drill the Amazon in Exchange of Funds
Ecuador Rainforest Conservation Plan Would Leave 20% of Oil Reserves Untapped

Many commenters in our posts on this issue have suggested that it is a shakedown; others have noted that America is perfectly happy to pay "Arkansas farmers $216 million one year to not grow rice"

What do think?

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