Save Ecuador's Biodiverse Rainforests From Mining

A global call to action: help rescue Ecuador’s mega-biodiverse rainforests and cloud forests from grand-scale mining! 

3,192 signatures

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Help Us Save Ecuador’s Rainforests from Mining

Background

Ecuador has the highest biodiversity per square kilometre of any nation on earth ...

But in 2017, the Ecuadorian government granted mining concessions to over 1.8 million hectares of forest reserves 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.

Grand-scale open-pit mining has no place in a climate and ecological emergency, especially not in the world's most biodiverse country ...

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!


Please sign this petition to prevent mining destroying these precious forests

And donate here to support their protection.


The Petition

We ask 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, 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.

 

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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.

We are currently supporting an exciting new Constitutional Court case for the protection of Los Cedros Biological Reserve

A win on this case will have huge implications for all of Ecuador's protected forests under threat from grand-scale mining!

Pristimantis cedros, Los Cedros Reserve. Photo: Morley Read

Los Cedros is one of the most biologically diverse habitats on earth 

The protected forest consists of more than 5,000 hectares (nearly 13,000 acres) of primary cloud forest, and it safeguards the headwaters of four important watersheds. 

The reserve protects at least 206 species with high extinction risk, four of which are regarded as critically endangered by the Ecuadorian government. These are the black and chestnut eagle, the brown-headed spider monkey, the northwestern Andes subspecies of Jaguar, and a plant in the coffee family.

It is also threatened by mining. 

In May 2020, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador announced that they will hear arguments in the case to preserve this threatened forest.

This is after a year of frustration following Los Cedros's June 2019 win at the Provincial Court. The court revoked the exploration licenses of the two mining companies whose concession covers Los Cedros, Cornerstone and ENAMI. However the companies ignored the ruling and have continued to explore illegally.

The Court has chosen to hear the case in order to set a precedent for application of the constitutionally guaranteed Rights of Nature within legally titled Protected Forests.

Ecuador was the first (and remains the only) nation in the world to have enshrined the Rights of Nature in its constitution. 

"With this case, it could now become the first to protect large swathes of biodiversity based upon this constitutional innovation, and set an invaluable precedent worldwide"

(Jonathon Porritt, former CEO of Friends of the Earth UK)

 

Ecuadorian mantled howler monkey, Los Cedros Reserve. Photo copyright: Murray Cooper Photography

The bigger picture

From the northern biodiverse cloud forests in the north to the indigenous territories in the Amazon headwaters, 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.

An investigation undertaken by Rainforest Information Centre in 2017 discovered that more than 750,000 hectares of protected forests and a million hectares of indigenous lands have been handed over to international mining companies.

This move ignored multiple provisions stipulated in the Ecuadorian Constitution [2] , including free, prior and informed consultation with communities affected by possible mines [3]

6 plate billed mountain toucan, Los Cedros Reserve. Photo copyright: Murray Cooper Photography

Biodiversity

Exploratory mining concessions now cover vast areas of land previously protected for conservation, including the extraordinarily biodiverse Los Cedros Biological Reserve, which the Rainforest Information Centre helped to create in 1988 with funds from the Australian Government’s Development Assistance Bureau.

Los Cedros, home of the critically endangered Andean Spectacled Bear and Brown-Headed Spider Monkey, is one of 41 Bosques Protectores (Protected Forests) in Ecuador where agriculture and grazing are prohibited ... but which are now open to mining on a grand scale. 

Many concessions lie within the highly threatened Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot zone, which is the #1 most biodiverse of the world's 36 Biodiversity Hotspots.

In fact, the country of Ecuador has some of highest rates of biodiversity of any country on Earth. Despite Ecuador’s small size, it is home to 10% of the world’s plant species and 16% of the world's bird species, many of which are endemic and threatened. Ecuador has some 3,500 orchids — the most anywhere on Earth - 22% of world’s known butterflies, 7% of its amphibian species, and 7% of all known mammal species. 

New species still being discovered in Ecuador every year.

There are many species endemic to the Tropical Andes Biological Hotspot, including these rare Ecuadorian frogs. Photo: Roo Vandegrift.

The entire Chocó bioregion in Northwestern Ecuador - which is part of the Tropical Andes Biological Hotspot and includes Los Cedros, the Cotacachi-Cayapas Reserve and the incredible cloud forests of the Intag watershed - is under extreme threat from mining. It is estimated that only 10% of the Chocó remain. Much of this region has already been destroyed by logging, agriculture, oil drilling, and other activities. 

What survives exists mainly inside parks and reserves, or (on paper) inside Indigenous Territories. 

Many communities and individuals use these forests for ecotourism, a sustainable activity with an enormous potential that Ecuador has nowhere near realised.

Many species are threatened by mining concessions, including rare and endangered plants, animals, and fungi, such as this un-identified Marasmius species from Los Cedros. Photo: Danny Newman.

 

Indigenous lands

Almost all of total Shuar territory, from the Amazon headwaters to the Peruvian border, is under concession to mining. The majority of companies in here are Canadian, Chinese and Australian.

Concessions cover the Bosque Protector Kutuku-Shaimi, where 5000 Shuar families live. Kutuku-Shaimi is part of a vulnerable biosphere situated within the headwaters of the Amazon.

The Shuar already host Ecuador's only two currently active mines, Fruta Del Norte (gold: Canadian/ Australian) and Mirador (copper: Chinese). Both these mines, in spite of only recently starting production, have been associated with massive human rights violations and environmental risks. 

In December 2016, a Shuar community called Nankintz was forcibly displaced by Mirador. The mining project has been associated with alleged assassinations of Shuar leaders, including that of Jose Tendentza in 2014, and with ongoing militarization of the entire area. Mirador's tailings dam is three times larger than the Samarco dam that collapsed in Brazil in 2015 poisoning 600 kms of waterways and killing 19 people.

Large scale mining will have devastating effects on the Shuar people and their way of life.

Shuar man, Ecuador. Photo: La Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (COICA).

 

The scale of the sell-off

The first big round of concessions was awarded by the government of  Rafael Correa, whose term finished in 2017. The ex-vice president of Ecuador, who acted as Coordinating Director for the Office of Strategic Sectors which promoted and negotiated these concessions, was jailed (on Oct 3 2017) in connection with large-scale bribes and other corrupt behaviour. 

To get an idea of the speed at which this has occurred, in April 2016 the total surface area affected by concessions for mining exploration and exploitation was 790,000 hectares, or just 3% of the continental territory of Ecuador.  That area has now quadrupled to more than 2 million hectares: around 12% of the country. 

Dozens more concessions are expected to be approved in early 2021 following a total overhaul of the country's mining and energy sectors, bringing them in line with austerities attached to massive World Bank and IMF loans. 

The Covid-19 crisis, which has crippled Ecuador's economy, is only making the Government more determined to fast-track grand-scale mining projects at any cost. In fact, on 15th May 2020, full scale mining operations were re-opened under a Presidential decree in spite of the country still being in pandemic lockdown! 

This goes to prove the extent to which the Government is prepared to ignore human rights and act against its own Constitution to get these projects underway. See the website of our campaign working group Rainforest Action Group for all our news, media releases and more general information on this.

Mining concession in Ecuador, before and after August 7th, 2017. Map by Dan Thomas; data from Mining Cadaster Geovisor, Ministry of Mining, Ecuador <http://geo.controlminero.gob.ec/>, accessed August 2017.

Granting mineral concessions in "Protected Areas" means that these reserves are no longer protected. If deposits are found, the reserves will be destroyed. 

Exploration allows roads to be constructed through protected areas and exploratory mining to take place, include drilling hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of meters deep into the subsoil to retrieve samples of ore bodies. 

Open-Pit Mine in the rainforest — Carajás Mine, Brazil. This photo shows the incredible devastation that mineral extraction can have on a region. Not shown are the impacts to downstream ecosystems and the people that live in them. PHOTO: NASA Earth Observatory.

Mining concessions in Ecuador as they overlap with protected forests. More than 30% of the total area of such forests are now within mining concessions. More than 15 different forest preserves have over 90% of their land area included in concessions. Map by Dan Thomas and Mireya Levy; mineral concession data from Mining Cadaster Geovisor, Ministry of Mining, Ecuador <http://geo.controlminero.gob.ec/>, accessed August 2017; protected forest data from the Ministry of the Environment, Ecuador <sni.gob.ec/coberturas>, accessed December 2016


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!

Please sign this petition to prevent mining destroying these precious forests

And donate here to support their protection.

We are currently raising funds to support the ground-breaking Los Cedros legal case

Paul Gilding, ex-CEO of Greenpeace International, is matching the first $5,000 of new donations dollar for dollar.

John Seed, founder of the Rainforest Information Centre, will match the next $5000

Together, we can save these beautiful forests!


For information about Los Cedros and its amazing biodiversity, visit here

For more detailed campaign history and activity, visit our RIC Ecuador Endangered updates page 

Visit the website of our dedicated volunteers at Rainforest Action Group (RAG) for the latest media releases, reports, interactive maps and more 

Los Cedros Reserve under lifting cloud. Photo credit: Liz Downes


[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”.

Who's signing

Cameron White
Kami U
Nicky Scott
Fatima Teqse Yak Estrada
Jacqueline Serrano
Emilio Filbig
Berenice Adams
Daniela Peña
Teresita Lozada
Nancy Orr
colin taylor
Mayra Farinango
Roberto Sosa
Kirsten Ebsen
Stephen Powell
Karen Noble
Sabutai Haider
Amparo Sosa
Evelyn Hunter
Patricio Andino
Chris Redston
Chris Carter
Valeria Salazar Cedillo
Brendan Jeffery
Erica Mónica Knoop
Rachael Noxon
Julian Carter
Robin Davidson
Margaret Thwaites
Nicole Naranjo
  • Cameron White
    signed 2020-10-31 03:36:41 +1100
  • Kami U
    signed 2020-10-30 12:54:25 +1100
  • Nicky Scott
    signed 2020-10-30 04:04:15 +1100
  • Fatima Teqse Yak Estrada
    signed via 2020-10-30 03:58:51 +1100
  • Jacqueline Serrano
    signed 2020-10-30 03:50:31 +1100
  • Emilio Filbig
    signed 2020-10-30 01:19:31 +1100
  • Berenice Adams
    signed 2020-10-29 21:41:44 +1100
  • Daniela Peña
    signed 2020-10-29 14:44:37 +1100
  • Teresita Lozada
    signed 2020-10-29 08:09:20 +1100
  • Nancy Orr
    signed 2020-10-29 05:48:35 +1100
  • colin taylor
    signed 2020-10-29 04:45:50 +1100
  • Mayra Farinango
    signed 2020-10-28 23:56:18 +1100
  • Roberto Sosa
    signed 2020-10-28 11:45:25 +1100
  • Kirsten Ebsen
    signed 2020-10-28 11:25:48 +1100
  • Stephen Powell
    signed 2020-10-28 11:05:48 +1100
  • Karen Noble
    signed via 2020-10-28 10:50:50 +1100
  • Sabutai Haider
    signed 2020-10-28 09:50:43 +1100
  • Amparo Sosa
    signed 2020-10-28 08:43:13 +1100
  • Evelyn Hunter
    signed 2020-10-28 08:15:19 +1100
  • Patricio Andino
    signed 2020-10-28 05:18:11 +1100
  • Chris Redston
    signed 2020-10-28 01:09:30 +1100
  • Chris Carter
    signed 2020-10-27 20:39:37 +1100
  • Valeria Salazar Cedillo
    signed 2020-10-27 15:01:59 +1100
  • Brendan Jeffery
    signed 2020-10-27 00:15:03 +1100
  • Erica Mónica Knoop
    signed 2020-10-26 23:20:56 +1100
  • Rachael Noxon
    signed 2020-10-26 19:55:07 +1100
  • Julian Carter
    signed 2020-10-26 19:49:41 +1100
  • Robin Davidson
    signed 2020-10-26 17:41:59 +1100
  • Margaret Thwaites
    signed 2020-10-26 16:49:10 +1100
  • Nicole Naranjo
    signed 2020-10-26 15:34:31 +1100

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