Ecuador’s Yasuni-itt initiative: a critical Assessment1

Avoided deforestation and achieved reforestation

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Avoided deforestation and achieved reforestation. Ecuador has a high proportion of undisturbed rainforests in its territory. According to ECLAC, the figure is 35%. Moreover, protected areas account for 19% of national territory, one of the highest proportions in Latin America. Most of remaining forests are located in the Amazon region. However, Ecuador is also affected by a very high deforestation rate (1.4% per year), the highest in South America and the third highest in Latin America (ECLAC, 2010, FAO, 2010) that results largely from oil extraction in the Amazon region.
The goal is to significantly reduce deforestation in Ecuador, eliminating it in a 30 year period. The total avoided deforested areas in 30 years reach 1.35 million hectares, with an avoided emission of 791 million tons of CO2. The reforestation of a million hectares adds 68 million tons of reduced emissions. The recent experience of Brazil, which reached a substantial reduction in deforestation after 2005 with a significant Norwegian support, demonstrates that the goal is feasible, given political will and economic support (Charts 3 and 4).

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