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Yasuni National Park

Designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989, this enormous bosque protegido (protected forest) encompasses an area of 9,820 square kilometers (6,100 mi).

Part of this area makes up the territory of the Huaorani indigenous people as well as several uncontacted indigenous tribes (such as the Tagaeri and the Taromenane).

The latter territories are referred to as intangible zones due to the fact that they are off limits to oil extraction, logging and in some cases even tourism.

The park itself is one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. You can find several hundred different species of trees, birds and wildlife within just a square kilometer of the entire park. A world record number of 150 amphibian species (for places with comparable landscapes) inhabits the park as well.

 

The Yasuni National Park has, however, been under constant threat from international oil companies that wish to cut into its jungle with roads and machinery in order to extract the fossil fuels it rests over.

In an incredibly ingenious environmental gambit, the government of Ecuador once pledged to leave the forests untouched and exempt from oil extraction with a project known as the Yasuni ITT initiative.

In return for the lost revenue, the international community was to pitch in and provide a compensation fund equivalent to at least 50% of the profits that it would have otherwise gained from drilling throughout the reserve.

Unfortunately, on August 15, 2013, Correa announced that due to the lack of support for the initiative, the government of Ecuador is now obliged to enter and extract the oil they need to keep their heads above an unstable world economy.

He has promised, however, to only touch 1% of the entire park in doing so. The La Selva Jungle Lodge is located directly across the Napo River from the Yasuni National Park and all visitors to La Selva have the opportunity to visit the park, most frequently on visits to the Parrot Salt Licks, just minutes up river from the lodge.

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