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Two National Parks Declared Off Limits to Drilling, Mining

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QUITO, ECUADOR -- Ecuador has declared a swath of Amazon jungle twice the size of the state of Delaware off limits to oil drilling, mining, lumbering and colonization. President Jamil Mahuad's decree Friday strengthened legislation controlling the economic exploitation of the Cuyabeno-Imuya and Yasuni national parks; together, they cover 2.7 million acres. The decree blocks planned oil exploration in the Cuyabeno-Imuya park that had angered Ecuador's environmental groups. The two parks, located near each other, are near Ecuador's borders with Peru and Colombia and contain a vast system of environmentally sensitive rivers and lakes, ecologists say. The parks still would be open to "friendly tourism," an Environment Ministry communiqué said. "We are respecting and valuing the collective rights and knowledge of the peoples" who live in the parks, the communiqué said.

The two parks are inhabited by 10,000 Indians. Two subgroups of the Huaorani Indians, who have violently resisted outside contact, live in the Yasuni park.

Adventure Life Commentary
by Brian Morgan

This is great environmental news! Although huge sections of the Ecuadorian Amazon are considered nature reserves, these classifications rarely protect these pristine and poorly understood ecological treasures from colonists and oil developers.

Jamil was elected last summer in a fiery election that in the eyes of environmentalists pitted classic good and evil against each other. Luckily Jamil won. I'm sure our Ecuador Coordinator remembers that election well. It was such an intense race that Tiffany lent her efforts to Jamil's campaign!

While mayor of Quito, Jamil turned Quito's most congested thoroughfare into an efficient transportation artery for the city center. Now, it seems he is lending his good will towards the fight to save Ecuador's remaining rainforest. His decree carries weight and for the moment protects one of the world's most biologically diverse forests from being destroyed.

Adventure Life tours will explore and learn about the Cuyabeno reserve this summer on both our Ecuador tours. The "friendly tourism" that the Environmental Ministry referred to is just the kind of activity that helps save these rich ecological areas. It helps provide the Huaorani with income for schools and medicines for their children; creates an entire network of vocal pro-environment business people from the jeep operator in the jungle up to the Hilton Hotel manager in Quito; and adds fuel to the international environmental voice by introducing you and me to the precious people and ecology that live in the Amazon.

We look forward to sharing this wonderful treasure with our travelers!

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