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Ecuadorians voted against drilling for oil in a protected area of the Amazon, an important decision that will require the state oil company to end its operations in a region that’s home to isolated tribes and is a hotspot of biodiversity.

With over 90% of the ballots counted, around 6 in 10 Ecuadorians rejected the oil exploration in Block 43, situated within Yasuni National Park.

Yasuni National Park is inhabited by the Tagaeri and Taromenani, who live in voluntary isolation, and other Indigenous groups. In 1989, it was designated, along with neighboring areas, a world biosphere reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO. Encompassing a surface area of around 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres), the area boasts 610 species of birds, 139 species of amphibians and 121 species of reptiles. At least three species are endemic.

The outcome represents a significant blow to Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso who advocated for oil drilling, asserting that its revenues are crucial to the country’s economy. State oil company Petroecuador, which currently produces almost 60,000 barrels a day in Yasuni, will be required to dismantle its operations in the coming months.

Source: The Star