In the ECUADOR ENDANGERED campaign the Rainforest Information Centre is supporting rural and indigenous communities to resist grand-scale copper and gold mining in some of the world's most biodiverse regions.
Since 2017, around a third of Ecuador's land mass has been sold to offshore mining companies without the consent of the public. Over two million hectares of this includes protected forests and indigenous territories.
This is a human rights and environmental catastrophe in the making.
If even some of these mining projects go ahead, thousands of endangered species risk extinction.
100% of funds go to support frontlines in Ecuador with campaigning, legal funds and community organisation
Toisán Range cloud forest, Intag, Ecuador
Grassroots resistance to mining in Ecuador is strong. The international campaign has developed at a fast pace, responding as needed in support of community mobilisations and legal battles. RIC is mainly working with communities in the northwestern part of the country, where Australian companies such as BHP, SolGold and Hanrine (Hancock Prospecting) threaten mega-biodiverse forests, farming communities, water-source areas and the lands of the Awá Indigenous people.
For more information about the damage that grand-scale mining will do to biodiversity and ecosystem services across Ecuador, read this 2018 research paper published in the Journal of Tropical Conservation.
For an overview of Australian involvement in this catastrophe, read this article published by our members of the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (MRAG): Australian mining companies plunder Ecuador's gold and copper
For the latest on the campaign, media releases, reports and more generated by our amazing MRAG, visit here.
UPDATE December 2021:
A WIN FOR LOS CEDROS!
In December 2021, Ecuador's Constitutional Court decided in favour of protection for Los Cedros Reserve from mining.
Seven of nine judges voted to revoke the environmental license of mining companies Cornerstone Capital Resources and ENAMI, forcing them to cease operations within the reserve.
The exciting thing about this 117-page ruling is its declaration that Cornerstone and ENAMI have violated three sets of constitutional rights:
- the rights of nature;
- the rights of nearby communities to safe water and a clean environment;
- the rights of communities to consultation regarding environmental impact.
The court also ruled that companies failed to follow due process with environmental and water permits for the Rio Magdalena mining concessions which cover Los Cedros.
Los Cedros Reserve. Photo: Roo Vandegrift
In this 5-minute video John Seed, founder of the Rainforest Information Centre, explains what is special about Los Cedros and why we have been fighting so hard to protect it.
In October 2020 the Court heard the case for Los Cedros in order to set a precedent for application of the constitutionally guaranteed Rights of Nature within legally titled Protected Forests.
After a fourteen month wait, this is an incredible relief! We would like to extend our gratitude to all who have contributed to this crowdfund. You have helped to:
- Pay the dedicated legal team, including one of Ecuador's best environmental lawyers, to prepare the case for the Constitutional Court - this win would not have been possible without their work
- Pay the Los Cedros management team to employ local staff and keep the reserve going through an intense year. Funds also helped with much needed repairs and maintenance to tracks and the scientific station
This contains detailed information about the incredible natural history of the reserve, including lists of birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects.
Letter from world scientists attesting to the biological value of Los Cedros
List of Publications from research undertaken at Los Cedros
Pristimantis cedros. Image: Morley Read
2021: ANOTHER YEAR OF CAMPAIGNING IN ECUADOR
JUNE 2021: SUPPORTING MINING RESISTANCE IN INTAG
Just north of Los Cedros, the Intag Valley and surrounding cloud forests are part of the same global biodiversity hotspot, with hundreds of endemic and endangered species.
Unfortunately, the region is covered in mining concessions - several of them owned by Australian companies including BHP, SolGold and Hancock Prospecting (Hanrine).
We are currently supporting local communities and conservation organisations to resist mining incursions and protect the region's water sources, farmlands and endangered species.
Preparations are currently underway for a legal case defending forests and waterways under constitutional Rights of Nature laws. For more information visit Intag Sanctuary of Life.
Watch this video made by RIC volunteers, showcasing the amazing biodiversity of the Intag region. Narrated by John Seed.
Please support the mining resistance of communities in Intag give our new crowdfund some love
2019 and 2020 CAMPAIGN HISTORY
JANUARY 2020 - BHP'S AGGRESSIVE PUSH INTO INTAG
This year has started with a lot of intensity for front-liners protecting their rainforests and communities in northwestern Ecuador. BHP, the world's biggest mining company, wants to start exploring for gold and copper in the area, and it appears they are willing to do almost anything to get in, including lie, cheat and surround themselves with military police.
We have been helping fund numerous community assemblies, which have resulted in a legal document containing resolutions to be presented to governmental, human rights and environmental bodies. See this overview of the escalating tensions here; and peruse the MRAG home page for more media links, reports and photos.
See also our recent report in The Ecologist about the situation: here
Image: Carlos Zorrilla
August 2019: RIC contributed to initial production costs for a major environmental documentary, Marrow of the Mountain (See trailer here). This film is being produced by friend of John Seed, mycologist and campaign supporter Roo Vandegrift. It will focus on Los Cedros and other critically endangered forests in the northwestern Andes of Ecuador. RIC is now a partner of the film and will continue to support its completion.
September 2019: Along with our allies at Mining Watch Canada, RIC donated funds to make a national anti-mining convergence happen in Quito. Our money mainly went to catering and travel for indigenous leaders from the Amazon and people dwelling in the vulnerable high plains ecosystems, all under mining concession. At the meeting we presented an overview of Australian mining company involvement in Ecuador.
Also in September we helped fund an assembly of 1500 people from communities across the Intag province.
Also in September MRAG got its first ever national news coverage in Australia, with this SBS story about Gina Rinehart's mining debacle in Intag
In October Ecuador erupted in nationwide protests and strikes over austerity measures imposed by the government as part of a new IMF deal.
In October RIC donated funds (mainly from a couple of generous donors) to support the ongoing legal action to stop a gold mine destroying cloud forests at Junín, Intag.
RIC is also supporting Los Cedros Reserve to present a legal action to the Constitutional Court, as mining companies are refusing to honour the April provincial court ruling and leave Los Cedros.
In October and November MRAG targeted the AGMs of SolGold and BHP in Brisbane and Sydney respectively, to present the concerns of embattled Ecuadorians to shareholders.
In December RIC members ran a deep ecology workshop in Melbourne and fundraised $2000 for Ecuador. More workshops followed in Feb and March in Tassie, and May in Melbourne.
Image: Carlos Zorrilla)
FOR MORE INFO ...
Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (RIC's most active RAG): See here for full campaign information, latest updates, media releases and more!
For an article addressing the broad neoliberal agenda behind Australian mining companies pushing their way aggressively into developing nations like Ecuador see here: Neoliberalism versus justice on Ecuador's mining frontier - published in FoE Australia's Chain Reaction.
MEDIA, REPORTS, STUDIES
See rainforestactiongroup.org for up-to-date media releases and reports on mining companies involved
John Seed’s March 2018 article
Jefferson Mecham’s comprehensive paper "Ecuador Endangered by Extreme Extractivism"
New mining concessions will severely decrease biodiversity and ecosystem services in Ecuador (Bitty Roy et al 2018)
Environmental Impact Study from early mining efforts in Junin (1996) (pdf)
Summary of tax and legal deregulations for mining made during Correa administration (Carlos Zorrilla, 2017) (pdf)