The forest here seems gigantic but it is not. And most of all its people are getting torn apart and impoverished. More than 70% of the Peruvian wilderness has been lotted and handed down to oil companies. Indigenous populations are opposing this grave invasion of their territory but the government insists that the invasion is below ground level so it does not concern them.
In the same way just to across the border: that which, they tell us, would be Heaven on Earth, by Lake Agrio and in the rest of the Sucumbios province, in Ecuador, looks more like a hell of pipes, valves, burners and piscinas: smelly abandoned oil lakes.
There are more than three hundred oil wells in Ecuador and oil related activities cover and area equal to two thirds of the Amazon Forest.
Yasuni’s ITT block is arguably the world’s most controversial oil drilling site as the wells will sit directly in what scientists believe is the most biodiverse place on Earth.
Located in eastern Ecuador, the Yasuni Park has more species per hectare of trees, shrubs, insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals than anywhere else in the world. It was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989, and it is home to the Tagaeri-Taromenane, Ecuador's last indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation.
This unique ecosystem is at risk as Ecuadorian government announced that it had begun constructing the first of a planned 651 oil wells.
Yasuni National Park has long been pivotal in global environmental debates.
Challenging the world to save Yasuni a decade ago, former president Rafael Correa asked wealthy countries to donate $3.6 billion to offset revenue lost by not drilling there.
The initiative brought in less than 4 percent of that amount so Correa scrapped the plan six years later and authorized drilling, saying the world had failed Ecuador.
The OPEC country is avidly seeking resources to revitalize an ailing economy, after a fall in oil prices and a major earthquake.
Ecuador expects to raise revenues of about $2.4 billion annually as of 2022 when it completes the development of the project located in the Yasuni National Park.
Critics feared that oil would destroy Yasuní in the same way it had led to widespread deforestation and pollution across much of Ecuador and the western Amazon. Not only could oil workings fatally contaminate water and soils, but new oil roads would be constructed deep into the forest allowing hunting, deforestation and colonization by people seeking land.