Yasuni in Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse locations on Earth and home to several indigenous tribes. However, for several decades the forests has also been home to several oil companies drilling for oil all around the forest. I have just come back from studying termites in Yasuni National Park and while we were surrounded by a section of pristine rain forest we could hear the oil tanks drive past on the big road not so far away while the local people were wearing T-shirts with the oil companies logos.
Yasuní-ITT makes up 12% of the one million hectare Yasuní National Park, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that may be the most biodiverse place on Earth. Perhaps more importantly, the park is territory of the Waorani indigenous people, and two nomadic Waorani clans – the Tagaeri and Taromenane – who live in voluntary isolation. In the 1990s the Maxus Oil Company began operating in Yasuní and in 1993 they built the 180 kilometer Via Maxus oil road through the heart of the park. Since then the government has divided over 40% of the park into oil concessions. Spanish company Repsol operates in Blocks 16 and 67, Chinese company PetroOriental operates in Blocks 17 and 14, and a Chinese conglomerate Andes Petroleum operates in Block 62. State-run oil company PetroAmazonas operates in Blocks 15, 12 and Block 31.