Save Ecuador's Rainforests From Mining

A global call to action: help rescue Ecuador’s hyper-diverse forests and indigenous peoples from the ravages of mining.

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Help Us Save Ecuador’s Rainforests and
Indigenous Territories from Mining

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Ecuador has the highest biodiversity per square kilometer of any nation. In the last year, the Ecuadorian government has quietly granted mining concessions to over 1.7 million hectares (4.25 million acres) of protected forests and indigenous territories. These exploratory concessions were  awarded to transnational corporations in closed-door deals without public knowledge or consent.

This is in direct violation of Ecuadorian law and international treaties, and will decimate headwater ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots of global significance.

 PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE CROWDFUND

Help us and our Ecuadorian partners in taking a stand to defend these forests, their amazing diversity of peoples and wildlife, and their critical contributions to the biosphere on which we all depend.

 

The Petition

Please sign this petition, which asks the government of Ecuador to listen to their people, who demand that they:

Rescind the new mining concessions including indigenous reserves, Bosques Protectores, and other protected areas and prohibit mining in “water sources and water recharge areas, in the national system of protected areas, in special areas for conservation, in protective forests, in fragile ecosystems, and in ‘no-go’ zones” [1] as called for by the coalition of civil society groups.

When you sign the petition, you will reach not only President Lenín Moreno and the Ecuadorian government, but also the other actors who have set the stage for this calamity:

➢   Signing tells the World Bank, which funded a project that collected geochemical data from 3.6 million hectares of Western Ecuador, including seven national protected areas and dozens of forest reserves, thus setting the groundwork for the mining industry, to support the Ecuadorian people in their demands above;

➢   Signing tells the Transnational Mining companies and their shareholders, which are planning on profiteering from the destruction of protected ecosystems and indigenous lands, that they will be held accountable for their actions.

➢   Signing asks the governments and NGOs that funded the creation and upkeep of these Bosques Protectores, indigenous reserves, and other protected sites, to immediately put pressure on Ecuador’s government to prevent their good work from being undone.

 

Support

Additionally, you can contribute to the crowdfunding campaign to support Ecuadorians in their campaign to get the government of Ecuador to rescind these new mining concessions and prohibit mining in protected areas.

Paul Gilding, ex-CEO of Greenpeace International, is
matching the first $15,000 of donations dollar for dollar.

Additionally, it will help fund a publicity campaign in Ecuador by the coalition of civil society groups to generate a national dialogue about development (“extractivism or a sustainable future?”), and help develop an economic model for forest conservation and regeneration as an alternative to mining and other extractive industries, including developing the arguments demonstrating the economic, as well as the ecological and social, advantages of the “Costa Rica” model (i.e., excellent economic indicators without mining).

 

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What’s happening?

A crisis of enormous proportions is developing in Ecuador. From the biodiverse cloud forests in the north to the indigenous territories in the headwaters of the Amazon in the southeast, the Ecuadorian government has covertly granted mining concessions in nearly 2 million hectares of protected areas. These concessions are to predominantly multinational mining companies from China, Australia, Canada, and Chile, amongst others.

Please sign this petition to prevent mining destroying these precious forests and contribute to support their protection.

An investigation undertaken by Rainforest Information Centre (RIC) has discovered that more than 750,000 hectares of areas designated by the government as Bosques Protectores (“protected forests”) and a million hectares of indigenous lands have been handed over to international mining companies, ignoring multiple provisions stipulated in the Ecuadorian Constitution [2], including prior informed consent of communities affected by possible mines [3]. While this may seem an extremely rapid development over recent months, this has been planned since the 1990’s with the aid of the World Bank.

For example, almost all of the 311,500 hectares of Forest Preserve “Kutuku-Shaimi”, where 5000 Shuar families live, has been conceded, as has the Los Cedros Biological Reserve, which RIC helped to create in 1988 with funds from the Australian government’s Development Assistance Bureau.

Los Cedros and Kutuku-Shaimi are only 2 of at least 39 (and counting) examples of Bosques Protectores where agriculture and grazing are prohibited, but which are now open to mining on a grand scale. Most of the concessions are within the Tropical Andes Biological Hotspot; the most biodiverse of the world's 36 Biodiversity Hotspot​s.

There are many communities and individuals using these forests for nature-based tourism, a sustainable activity with an enormous potential that Ecuador has not yet fully realized.

To get an idea of the speed at which this has occurred, in April 2016 the total surface area affected by concessions for exploration and exploitation was 790,000 hectares, or just 3% of the continental territory of Ecuador. Nine months later, that area has quadrupled to 2.3 million hectares under concessions, or more than 11% of the country.

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Mining concession in Ecuador, before and after August 7th, 2017 — an unprecedented glut of mining concessions were granted by the outgoing Correa administration in August, increasing the land area under concession by more than 300%. Map by Dan Thomas; data from Mining Cadaster Geovisor, Ministry of Mining, Ecuador, accessed August 2017

This shameless glut of concessions was handed over under the administration of outgoing president Rafael Correa, whose term finished in April of this year. The vice president of Ecuador, who acted as Coordinating Director for the office of ’Strategic Sectors’, which promoted and negotiated these concessions, has been jailed (on Oct 3 2017) in connection with large-scale bribes and other corrupt behavior.

Although these concessions are initially for exploration, the mining industry anticipates an eightfold growth to $8 billion by 2021 due to a “revised regulatory framework”. Granting mineral concessions in reserves means that these reserves aren’t actually protected any longer: if minable deposits are found, the reserves will be destroyed.

In Ecuador, civil society is mobilizing and has demanded that their recently elected government prohibit industrial mining “in water sources and catchments, in the national system of protected areas, in special conservation areas, in forest preserves and fragile ecosystems”. 

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Mining concession in Ecuador as they overlap with protected forests — a disproportionate amount of land in Bosques Protectores, protected forests, are included in recent mining concession. More than 30% of the total area of such forests are now within mining concessions, and more than 15 different forest preserves have more than 90% of their land area included in concessions. Map by Dan Thoman; mineral concession data from Mining Cadaster Geovisor, Ministry of Mining, Ecuador accessed August 2017; protected forest data from the Ministry of the Environment, Ecuador accessed December 2016.

Although the new government has signaled a willingness to listen to the concerns of its citizens not expressed by the previous administration, it has not taken on most of the protections proposed on September 27 2017 by the coalition of NGOs, local governments, and communities affected by the concessions. Indeed, the government rejected all but one of the protections suggested by the coalition, including only prohibition of mining activities in National Parks and Ecological Reserves in the national referendum question on mining. The coalition asserts that this is insufficient; notably, “National Parks and Ecological Reserves” leaves indigenous lands and Bosques Protectores, like Los Cedros, unprotected.

There is strength in numbers! Sign the petition now to support the demands of Ecuador’s civil society and contribute to support their efforts to reverse these mining concessions.

Paul Gilding, ex-CEO of Greenpeace International, is 
matching the first $15,000 of donations dollar for dollar.

Together, we can save these beautiful forests!

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[1] “…fuentes y nacimientos de agua, zonas de recarga hídricas, en el sistema nacional de áreas protegidas, en áreas especiales para la conservación, en bosques protectores, en ecosistemas frágiles, y en zonas intangibles.”

[2] See TITLE II: Chapter 7 — “Nature ... has the right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes.”

[3] See TITLE II: Chapter 4, Article 57.7, which guarantees the right “[t]o free prior informed consultation, within a reasonable period of time, on the plans and programs for prospecting, producing and marketing nonrenewable resources located on their lands and which could have an environmental or cultural impact on them”.

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