In a recent referendum, 67.5 percent of Ecuador’s voting population voted in favor increasing Yasuní National Park’s Intangible Zone by at least 50,000 hectares and reducing the oil extraction area in the park from 1,030 to 300 hectares. Ishpingo Field, which forms part of Block 43 of the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) Initiative, is the only field that has not yet been exploited. Drilling was slated to begin there in mid-2018, but the referendum’s “yes” vote may prevent exploitation. Ishpingo is located on Yasuni’s Intangible Zone, which protects Indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation. Environmentalists hope that a technical commission will be formed to define where the Intangible Zone will expand.
Forest Legislations 1
The Ebenezer-Macuma-Taisha highway promised change and work opportunities. By now, only three more miles need to be paved along the Ebenezer-Macuma-Taisha highway in order to finish it. But the federal government suddenly turned against the project, arguing that the road project doesn't follow the technical and environmental norms, and as it is, it affects the water, soil, and vegetation in the area. Meanwhile, the environment ministry will design a management plan for the Kutukú-Shaimi Protected Forest.
A new study of 14 nations by WWF and think tank Climate Advisors shows that only 4 (Indonesia, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru) have set targets to succeed by 2020. WWF say that if zero net deforestation by 2010 was achieved in these 14 countries, three gigatonnes in annual carbon dioxide could be saved by 2020 – more than the annual emissions of India and Germany combined.
1. Zero deforestation commitments. 2015 may be the year that many of the zero deforestation commitments are actually implemented.
2. Joko Widodo’s forest commitments. As Indonesia’s new president takes on the challenge of reforming the forestry sector, look out for greater scrutiny of concession licensees, as well as a crack-down on forestry-related corruption.
3. The Brazilian Amazon. There are concerns that Brazil’s current downward deforestation trajectory may not last.
4. Will Paris product a binding climate framework? Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation is expected to have a central role in the climate talks in Paris at the end of the year.
5. Where are the new deforestation hotspots? Data from the WRI suggests that deforestation may be rising in several countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ecuador and Ghana amongst others. 2015 will also uncover new studies and tools that will help better quantify change in forest cover.
6. Falling commodity prices. Lower prices reduce the profitability of converting rainforests for palm oil plantations. On the other hand, companies may be less likely to adopt environmental measures if they have less cash on hand.
7. Myanmar. As Myanmar opens up further to foreign investors, concerns about the fate of the country’s forests will rise.
8. Dams in the Amazon. Indigenous groups and environmentalists are ready to fight against Brazil’s hydro projects in the Tapajos basin.
9. RSPO and zero deforestation. If the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) does move towards zero deforestation it has a critical tool in place to do so: last year members were required to submit the GPS coordinates of their concessions.
10. Jurisdictional initiatives. Sub-national efforts to develop forest-friendly policies and initiatives will move forward in 2015.
Data released this week by Terra-i, a collaborative mapping initiative, shows that deforestation in Ecuador for the first three months of 2013 was pacing more than 300 percent ahead of last year's rate. The report comes shortly after Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa killed off a proposed plan to prohibit oil drilling in Yasuni National Park in exchange for payments equivalent to half the value of the park's unexploited oil reserves.
Terra-i, a collaboration between the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the School of Business and Engineering (HEIG-VD) in Switzerland and King’s College London (KCL), uses NASA satellite data to detect deforestation in Latin America on 16-day basis. The system shows that between Jan 1 and Mar 7 this year, some 9,075 ha of Ecuador's forests were cleared. By comparison, 2,931 ha of forest were chopped down during the year-earlier period.