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Scientists release map for United Nations events, showing Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park is most biodiverse zone in Western Hemisphere

PRESS RELEASE: September 21, 2011
This week, an international team of scientists is releasing a striking new biodiversity map in support of the last big push for Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT Initiative at the UN General Assembly. “We wanted to show world leaders at the UN just how special Yasuní is,” said Dr. Matt Finer,
one of the scientists behind the map.

“The map indicates that Yasuní National Park is part of a small, unique zone with the maximum biological diversity in the Western Hemisphere,” said Dr. Clinton Jenkins, lead designer of the map and Research Scholar at North Carolina State University.

“It shows that Yasuní is the center of a tiny area where four key groups—amphibians, birds, mammals, and vascular plants—all reach their peak diversity within the hemisphere,” added Margot Bass, lead author on the study where the map was first published.

Ecuador launched their innovative offer in 2007. In exchange for leaving its second largest proven oil reserves—located under Yasuní—permanently untapped, Ecuador would accept compensation for half of revenues lost by not exploiting the oil. However, President Rafael
Correa has said he will have to withdraw the offer and allow oil exploitation to advance in the park if Ecuador does not receive at least $100 million by December.

Dr. Holger Kreft of University of Göttingen, co-designer of the map, explained, "We used the most comprehensive data on plant species distributions along with comparable datasets generously shared by the Global Amphibian Assessment, Global Mammal Assessment, and a
comparable dataset for birds distributed by NatureServe."

Dr. John Kress, Smithsonian Institution Director of the Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet, said: "This map suggests east Ecuador and northeast Peru may indeed have the highest numbers of birds, mammals, amphibians, and plants coexisting
in 100-square-kilometer areas or less. This diversity is absolutely astounding." Added Dr. Stuart Pimm, Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University, “Yasuní is an international treasure—perhaps the biologically richest place on Earth. Its loss would be a tragedy for Ecuador and, indeed, peoples worldwide who celebrate the diversity of life.”

Hugo Mogollon, tropical ecologist from Ecuador and Executive Director of Finding Species, concluded: “The Yasuní-ITT Initiative is pioneering. It is a serious effort to keep megadiverse forest intact, coming straight from the office of the President of Ecuador. Governments of the region and around the world should really want to support this.”

CONTACTS, The scientific team can be contacted via:
Matt Finer ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )
Hugo Mogollon ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )