All the lodges we work with are either in the heart of the Yasuni National Park or on the edge of it. This National Park, in Ecuador’s Eastern Amazon Basin may hold more species of life than anywhere else on earth. The numbers are just staggering. There are, for example, more than 185 mammalian species, more than 650 bird species, more than 180 species of reptiles, more than 100 amphibian species and more than 600 fish species. In an area of around 34 football fields, over 1,100 species of tree can be found, more than in the whole of the USA and Canada.
Why is it so diverse?
There isn’t a definitive answer to the outstandingly high levels of diversity of life forms encountered in Yasuni. Causes may include the low variation in temperatures, high annual rainfall, it has also been described as an ‘ecological bulls-eye’ due to its location at the base of the Andes, along the Amazon and close to the equator – three distinct ecological systems converging on what is a remarkable and unique area.
Sadly the answer is yes. Illegal hunting and logging have existed for many years, as in many parts of the Amazon, however the discovery of oil in 1937 in the region created a new threat. In 2007 this came to the world’s attention when the president of the time – Rafael Correa proposed a plan to protect the rainforest from drilling, it called for $3.5 billion in international donations (around half the estimated revenue they would have got from drilling the 850 million barrels of oil under Yasuni). In return they would promise not to drill the oil. Sadly the initiative failed, and in 2013 the president authorised drilling in previously untouched parts of the park.
How can we help?
Tourism is a very important conservation method, bringing much-needed dollars, awareness and jobs to the area. The Napo Wildlife Centre, and Sani Lodge that we work with are great examples of this. Run very responsibly, and with a strong focus on the conservation of the rainforest they are 100% owned and run by the local communities and helping conserve vast tracts of untouched forest.
Facts about Yasuni National Park
The Yasuni National Park was created in 1979 and is situated in the eastern and central part of the Ecuadorian Amazon Region, more specifically in the Orellana and Pastaza provinces between the Napo and Curaray rivers. This conservation unit, the biggest in continental Ecuador, encompasses an area of about 980,000 ha. (2,450,000 acres). For this reason, the Yasuní National Park was chosen as the core area of the biosphere reserve. The most important rivers that flow through the park are Yasuní, Cononaco, Nashiño and Tiputini. Añangucocha (Ant Lake), Yuturicocha, Pañacocha (Piranha Lake) and Jatuncocha Napo River drainage.