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Scientists identify Ecuador's Yasuni National Park as one of most biodiverse places on earth
Date:1/19/2010

0 insect species. According to eminent entomologist Dr. Terry Erwin, that is the highest estimated diversity per unit area in the world for any plant or animal group.

"One of our most important findings about Yasun is that small areas of forest harbor extremely high numbers of animals and plants," said lead author Margot Bass, president of Finding Species, a non-profit with offices in Maryland and Quito, Ecuador. "Yasun is probably unmatched by any other park in the world for total numbers of species."

The extraordinary diversity of Yasun is best exemplified at the 1,600-acre Tiputini Biodiversity Station on the northern edge of the park.

"The Tiputini Biodiversity Station is home to 247 amphibian and reptile species, 550 bird species and around 200 mammal species," said Dr. Kelly Swing of the University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador.

"What makes Yasun especially important is its potential to sustain this extraordinary biodiversity in the long term," said Dr. Matt Finer of Save America's Forests. "For example, the Yasun region is predicted to maintain wet, rainforest conditions as climate change-induced drought intensifies in the eastern Amazon."

The paper concludes with a number of science-based policy recommendations. One key recommendation is a moratorium on new oil exploration or development projects within the park, particularly in the remote and relatively intactbut oil richnortheast corner that contains oil blocks 31 and ITT.

The Ecuadorian government is promoting a revolutionary plan, known as the Yasun-ITT Initiative, which would leave the park's largest oil reserves in the ITT block permanently under the ground. A lack of funding commitments, however, now threatens the proposal.

"The Yasun-ITT Initiative urgently needs international funders to step up and make it a success, or else more drilling in the core of Yasun may become a tragic reality," concluded Finer.


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Contact: Peter English
english@austin.utexas.edu
512-627-7517
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert  

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