Ecuador had agreed last year to accept money in exchange for not drilling for oil in Yasuní National Park, an area of the Amazon rainforest that last year set a record for the most mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species in the world.
But a fundraiser was held last night that collected the $116 million necessary to temporarily halt exploitation of the area for oil.
An odd alliance of governments, film stars, Japanese businesses, Russian institutions, and soft drink companies have come forward to help protect the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador from exploitation by oil companies.
Yasuní National Park in Ecuador has become the planet’s latest success story, with a United Nations “crowdfunding” initiative held Thursday night to raise $116 million, an amount needed to put a temporary halt to exploitation by the oil industry of 722 square miles of the Ecuadorian Amazon known as the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil fields.
Development of the oilfield, which was planned to take place immediately if the money had not been raised, would have inevitably led to ecological devastation and the eventual release of over 400m tonnes of CO2.
Ecuador agreed to halt plans to mine the oilfield if it could raise 50% of the $7.6bn revenue being lost by not mining the oil. While the world's leading conservation groups pledged nothing, regional governments in France and Belgium offered millions of dollars – with $2m alone from the Belgian region of Wallonia. A New York investment banker donated her annual salary and Bo Derek, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Al Gore all contributed.