Photo: Efforts to Save Ecuador Rainforest Attracts Stars like DiCaprio, Raises $116 Million
When environmentalists, conservationists and those simply opposed to oil drilling in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park were told they had to raise $3.6 billion by 2024 and make scheduled payments to stop it, many worried it could not be done. However, with the help of celebrities and donations from around the world, the first payment deadline was met and the 722 square miles of rainforest was protected.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former Vice President Al Gore were among those that helped raise the $100 million needed by December 30, 2011. In exchange for the first payment, the Ecuadorian government has agreed not to mine the nearly 900 million gallons of crude oil below the Amazonian land known as Yasuni National Park.
As of September 2011, only $4 million had been collected, but the months after showed just that people new the importance of the park. Private donations began flooding in from celebrities, business people, national governments, and average citizens. In the end, $116 million was raised by the deadline and an estimated emission of 407 million metric tons of CO², which would have been caused by the extraction of the oil as well as burning it, was prevented from entering the air.
Scientists concluded that more mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species live in a 100 square-mile area of Yasuní than in any other spot in the hemisphere.
The fight is not over, as yearly payments need to be made, but as Good Environment wrote:
Anyone can donate to the Yasuni trust fund, and even small donations help validate the project’s hypothesis—that there is an international community that values natural resources enough to pay for their survival.