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.
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.
Mining companies in the areas around Intag, northwestern Ecuador, showing locations of protected forests. Courtesy of Melbourne Rainforest Action Group.
100% of funds go to support frontlines in Ecuador with campaigning, legal funds and community organisation.
Currently, donations towards our $50,000 target are being allocated to future of the Los Cedros Reserve. Read below for updates on our international campaign to save this precious cloud forest from the Cornerstone and ENAMI mining companies.
Los Cedros River
LOS CEDROS UPDATE: JULY 2021
Last October, a Constitutional Court hearing took place for the Rights of Nature for the irreplaceable and mega-biodiverse Los Cedros Reserve. 85 amicus curiaes were submitted to the court, mostly from environmentalists and scientists in Ecuador and all over the world.
The court proceedings were expected to come to a resolution by December 2020. This didn't happen. As at August 2021 we're still waiting for a result. Watch this space.
In this 5-minute video John Seed, founder of the Rainforest Information Centre, explains what is special about Los Cedros and why we are fighting to protect it.
This contains detailed information about the incredible natural history of the reserve, including lists of birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects (Lepidoptera) and links to iNaturalist.
Don't forget to sign our petition to give weight to our voice and the voices of Ecuadorians who want to keep their lands pristine and free of mining!
Pristimantis cedros. Image courtesy of Morley Read
ECUADOR ENDANGERED: CAMPAIGN UPDATES
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
CAMPAIGN HISTORY TIMELINE
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 courtesy of Carlos Zorrilla)
JULY 2019 - JAN 2020 OVERVIEW
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. Video here!
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 to follow in Feb and March in Tassie, and May in Melbourne.
(Image courtesy of Carlos Zorrilla)
FOR MORE INFO ...
Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (RIC's most active RAG): our freshly renovated website is here with full campaign information, latest updates from the ground in Ecuador, media releases and more!
For a December 2019 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, JOURNAL STUDIES
See rainforestactiongroup.org for heaps of 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)
Fruta del Norte gold mine in the Ecuadorian Amazon (owned by Canadian Lundin Gold and Australian Newcrest). Image courtesy of Mining Watch Canada
Our involvement with this campaign stemmed from our efforts to protect the Los Cedros Biological Reserve, one of over 40 mega-biodiverse protected forests (Bosques Protectores) currently threatened by mining concessions. RIC has been a stalwart support of Los Cedros since allocating the funds and helping establish the reserve in 1989. Many of the volunteers currently forming the backbone of the campaign are local and international activists and scientists who have been involved with the protection of Los Cedros over many years.
For more background see RIC's 2016 Los Cedros update, created when the mining threat had only just been discovered.
Letter from world scientists attesting to the biological value of Los Cedros
Los Cedros species lists from Bitty Roy, professor of Ecology, University of Oregon
List of Publications from research undertaken at Los Cedros