“Violate the rights of nature” – Ecuadorian court votes in favor of forests against mining plans



Ecuador’s highest court has ruled that mining for copper and gold in a protected cloud forest is illegal and infringes natural rights.

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In a landmark decision, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled that mining permits issued in Los Cedros, a protected area in the northwest of the country, would undermine the biodiversity of the forest, which is home to Spectacled Bears, endangered frogs, dozens of rare orchid species and the world’s rarest primates, the brown-headed spider monkey.

Historic Court ruling

Los Cedros

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Ecuadorian national mining company, Enami EP, owned rights to mining concessions awarded in two-thirds of the reserve. After the court upheld a complaint filed by communities near Los Cedros that ended up in a lower court, mining concessions, environmental licenses and water in the forest must be rescinded.

In a decision released on Wednesday, Ecuador’s highest court upheld the natural rights enshrined in the country’s constitution, saying they apply throughout the country, not just in protected areas.

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Los Cedros is located in the Chocó region of South America, covering parts of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. It is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, with vegetation and fauna found nowhere else on the planet.

“This is a historic triumph for the environment,” said Natalia Greene of the World Alliance for the Rights of Nature, a non-governmental organization which lobbied the court to prevent mining in Los Cedros.

Nature law

“No activity that violates the rights of nature, including mining and other extractive activities, can be developed inside the ecosystem of the Los Cedros Protected Forest, according to the Constitutional Court. ” Mining is now prohibited in this beautiful and unique protected forest. This sets a strong legal precedent that other vulnerable protected forests will follow. Today, endangered frogs, spectacle bears, spider monkeys, birds and wildlife at large have triumphed in an unprecedented war. “

Victory for nature

Los Cedros

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The verdict, activists say, is a turning point for Ecuador and the region, as many more mining and extraction projects are planned in environmentally sensitive areas. Ecuador’s new constitution incorporated environmental rights between 2007 and 2008.

Dr Mika Peck, Ecuadorian lecturer in biology at the University of Sussex who first looked into the biological significance of Los Cedros in the mid-1990s, links the decision to Thomas’ human rights Paine, a crucial document in the American Revolution.

“It is essential that the world thinks about the limits of nature and critically assess the effectiveness of current conservation policies and activities,” he added. “Policy frameworks that place humans in context as part of nature, embedded in a system that balances inherent rights between legitimate legal subjects, rather than placing humans above or outside nature, will be a part needed to solve serious environmental problems as our planet faces. “This decision is just as important to nature as Thomas Paine’s Human Rights were to our species.”

Also read: Only 3% of the world’s ecosystems are still in pristine condition

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