Ecuador has agreed not to drill for oil in the Amazon Basin's Yasuni Preserve in exchange for payments of up to $3.6 billion from wealthy nations.
The BBC and Yahoo News are reporting that Ecuador signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on August 3, agreeing to not drill any of the 3 oilfields under the Yasuni Reserve for 10 years. The $3.6 billion represents about half of what the country would earn from the sale of oil from the Yasuni.
The 3 Yasuni oilfields are said to hold up to 846 million barrels of oil, which is 20% of Ecuador's oil. Oil is Ecuador's leading export.
This deal is big news for the Huaorani and other indigenous people in Eucador, as Huaorani territory overlaps with Yasuni National Park in many places. Huaorani and trible lands have already been impacted heavily by oil development, and hopefully this agreement will help protect the land from the destructive oil production. Oil development on tribal lands kills the wildlife and makes it very different for subsistence hunter / gatherers to survive.
The Yasuni has been declared a World Bioshpere Reserve by Unesco. It is considered one of the most biologically diverse regions on earth, with as many different species in one hectare as in all of North America. 644 different species of trees have been identified in one hectare in Yasuni.