BOGOTA, Colombia — Ecuador will open a pristine swath of the Amazon to oil drilling after the international community failed to back an ambitious conservation plan to leave the crude untouched, the government said Thursday.
In a nationally televised speech, President Rafael Correa said he was dissolving the Yasuni-ITT Initiative, in which the country planned to leave more than 840 million barrels of oil untouched if other nations would pay $3.6 billion, or half the market price of the crude.
The ITT oil block — short for Ishpingo, Tambococha, Tiputini — holds about 20 percent of the nation’s reserves and lies in a remote corner of Yasuni National Park, one of the most biodiversity-rich spots on the planet.
The 2.4 million-acre U.N. biosphere reserve holds about one-third of all of the Amazon’s amphibian species. In any given two-and-a-half acre plot of the Yasuni there are more species of trees than in the United States and Canada combined.