By Ian Hinze
A multinational consortium that has been awarded the contract to build a new oil pipeline in Ecuador is planning to route it through the Mindo region, an area of pristine cloud forest and protected reserves. This northern route may be devastating to this unique habitat of 450 species of birds (5-percent of the world's total) and a host of endangered plants and animals, while possibly affecting the lives of area residents dependent on local tourism.
Local landowners and more than 60 conservation and other nongovernmental organizations formed a committee to fight the northern route and now feel that the only chance to stop it is through international pressure on the consortium members. The government had also approved a southern route, which follows the path of an existing pipeline and passes through previously deforested areas, thus causing far less environmental impact. Scientists and bird lovers recognize that Ecuador needs the revenues that the proposed oil pipeline will generate, but this is not a case of having to choose between the environment and economic development.
The consortium, OCP Ltd., includes Occidental Petroleum (U.S.), Kerr-McGeeEnergy (U.S.), Agip Oil (Italy), Alberta Energy Corporation (Canada), Repsol-YPF (Spain/Argentina) and Techint (Argentina). Chase Manhattan Corp. (U.S.) is providing financing. For information on how you can help, contact: email@example.com.