Sunday, October 09, 2016

Protect the Amazon

The Amazon is home to the world's highest levels of biodiversity, with more than 430 mammal species, 1,300 bird species, 56,000 plant and tree species, 5,600 fish species, 1,000 amphibian species, and 2.5 million insect species. Just one hectare of Yasuní National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon contains 655 endemic tree species, more than all of the tree species in the United States and Canada combined. Oil-driven deforestation gravely threatens this complex web of biodiversity, with recent studies linking major, exponential extinctions to forest loss.

U.S. crude imports are in overall decline, the report notes. But imports from the Amazon are on the rise, so much so that the U.S. is now importing more crude oil from the Amazon than from any single foreign country.

"Existing and proposed oil and gas blocks in the Amazon cover 283,172 square miles, an area larger than the state of Texas," per the report. "Oil is presently being extracted from only 7% of these blocks, yet national governments aim to exploit an additional 40%, including those slated for pristine, mega-diverse forests such as Ecuador's Yasuní National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve."

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