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Global 3000

Ecuador: Can the Yasuni rainforest still be saved?

The Yasuni rainforest boasts one of the largest varieties of flora and fauna in the world. But the region's resource that most interests the government of Ecuador lies under ground. Oil production started here 45 years ago. Since then much of Yasuni National Park has been damaged - only small areas remain untouched.

In 2007, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa launched a plan where, in exchange for forgoing drilling in the park, international donors would contribute half of the value of the oil that would have been extracted. Despite broad support, the plan generated just a fraction of expected donations.

In August 2013, the government reversed its plans and said drilling for oil would start in what's known as the ITT oilfields. Environmental activists took to the streets to protest against the move. Now green groups have until Spring 2014 to collect over 600,000 signatures on a petition that would force a national referendum on the fate of the rainforest.