By Rhett A. Butler
4 September 2013
(mongabay.com) – 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.
Between January and March 2013, two-thirds of the loss occurred within the country's tropical lowland forests, the most carbon-dense and species-rich ecosystem in the country. Nearly 5,000 hectares of forest was cleared in the region where Yasuni National Park is located. [more]