The Story 500 words by Matt Finer Phd .........................

At this moment, the Brazilian national oil company PetroBras is finalizing plans to build a major new road into Ecuador’s megadiverse Yasuni National Park. This road will be a completely new artery into roadless, primary Amazonian rainforest virtually untouched by human activities and would provide access to the very heart of arguably the most biodiverse forest on the planet.

The extraordinary biodiversity of Yasuni National Park was recognized in
1989 when it was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Yasuni Park contains the highest documented tree diversity per hectare in the world, and over 1,500 species of trees species have been found at the Yasuni Research Station, eclipsing the diversity of any other known site in the world. In addition, Yasuni Park supports world-class insect, bird, amphibian, and mammal diversity.

However, this biodiversity faces an unprecedented threat as PetroBras wishes to build a 45 km new road into a virtually untouched part of Yasuni Park to access two oil wells. The first 20 kilometers of the road will transect the territory of an indigenous Quichua community living along the Rio Napo. The road will then continue 25 more kilometers into the heart of Yasuni National Park. This 25-kilometer stretch within
the Park is ancestral Huaorani territory as well. In addition to the road and two wells, a massive processing facility and oil pipeline will be built within the Park as well.

Despite promises made by PetroBras, this road will undoubtedly trigger an irreversible wave of colonization and overhunting within one of the great wildlife havens on Earth. We know this because of the events currently unfolding around the first major road built into the Park, the Maxus Road. Ten years ago, oil companies built the Maxus Road, a 120 km road into the middle of Yasuni Park, with many big promises that no damage would be done to the rainforest. However, 10 years later, we see the real effects: the rate of colonization by indigenous peoples along the Maxus Road continues to accelerate beyond sustainable levels, and in turn overhunting is decimating the famous wildlife of the Yasuni. Everything from ocelots and jaguars, to spider and howler monkeys, to tapirs and peccaries are being hunted out of control. For instance, primate biologists have documented that, due to the unprecedented access
created by the road, the harvest rate of wooly monkeys is now greater than the birth rate, and the woolies are on their way to local extinction.

So now it is critical to stop PetroBras from committing the same mistake. We are urging the people of Brazil to contact PetroBras and demand that if they are going to extract oil from the megadiverse Yasuni National Park, they must do it without building a road. Please help us in demanding that PetroBras develop a roadless development alternative that will not accelerate colonization within the Park and destroy one of the greatest wildlife safe havens in the world.