Biodiverse Yasuni National Park
Located near the city of Quito is a peaceful and breathtaking national park that consists mainly of rain forest. It also has a very rich history with a division of the park being ancestral lands of the indigenous Huaorani, and in 1989 the park was designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. This magnificent park is Yasuni National Park and has recently been making headlines as scientists and researchers have revealed that it is now believed to be one of the most diverse parks in the world.
The research and studies began due to oil developers wanting to tap into the oil rich soils of the Yasuni National Park. Even though the government has been trying its utmost to deter the oil barons by promoting the Yasuni-ITT Initiative, lack of funds is become the greatest threat to the park. But the recent studies of species and the habitats provided by the park have raised even greater concerns, as it seems that Yasuni National Park is indeed a rare area, and allowing oil companies access to the park will destroy one of the most biodiverse parks known to man.
Bird specialist Dr. Peter English, who is from the University of Texas, expressed his amazement at identifying 596 species within the Yasuni National Park. And the spectacular findings did not end with the birds; it was just the tip of the iceberg. Also participating in the research, and from the Texas State University, was Shawn McCracken, who added that a world record was broken by the amphibian species of the park after 150 species were documented. Entomologist Dr. Terry Erwin estimated whilst studying only one hectare of park land that it contains 100, 000 insect species alone. The Smithsonian Institution, Finding Species and Gorky Villa, a botanist from Ecuador, have been working tirelessly to record the tree species of the Yasuni National Park, and have found an area of 2.47 acres to contain over 655 tree species, with areas of approximately 25 hectares being home to more than 1 100. From these figures alone it is easy to realize the importance of the park and the need to protect and conserve it. As Dr. Clinton Jenkins from the University of Maryland commented to the press, “Yasuni is at the center of a small zone where South America’s amphibians, birds, mammals, and vascular plants all reach maximum diversity. We dubbed this area the ‘quadruple richness center’.” It is now hoped that the research and its results will bring renewed effort and funding to save Yasuni National Park.