Yasuni National Park – 2.5 million acres in the Ecuadorian Amazon – is home to some of the world’s most diverse communities of birds, amphibians, insects, and trees. There are nearly as many species of trees in a single hectare (2.5 acres) of the Yasuni as in the entire United States and Canada combined. But it’s also home to some of Ecuador’s largest untapped oil fields.

I wrote about this earlier here. A friend of mine is pouring his heart and soul into efforts to save this biodiversity hotspot; he is currently preparing to return to Ecuador to battle it out on the ground in the coming months. While other countries have been compensated for leaving forests undeveloped, this is the first situation where a country has considered leaving oil in the ground, in turn leaving the forest alone, if it is partially compensated. I hope that this gets more media coverage soon.

While Yasuni National Park is technically protected right now, I learned that it is only really protected until further notice, as many areas of Ecuador that were once protected had their status changed in order to make room for oil companies.