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Landmark 'Rights of Nature' court hearing may protect 6 million acres of rainforest and set an invaluable global precedent

The Los Cedros Reserve in North-West Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth. Covering 4,800 hectares (12,000 acres) of primary cloud forest, it safeguards the headwaters of four important watersheds and is home to over 200 threatened and critically endangered species, including 25% of the global population of brown-headed spider monkeys, of which only 250 remain.
Los Cedros River Image credit Murray Cooper
Los Cedros River. Image Credit: Murray Cooper

Ecuador was the first country in the world to recognize the Rights of Nature in its Constitution, however in recent years the Ecuadorian government has promoted large scale metal mining in its national network of forests and indigenous territories, including the protected Los Cedros cloud forest reserve.

Jose DeCoux, Manager and Founder of Los Cedros reserve, said: "We have been presenting arguments that mining in Protected Forests is a violation of the legal status of declared Protected Areas; the collective rights of indigenous peoples; the Rights of Nature; and the right of communities to prior consultation, even before considering potential environmental damages."

The Constitutional Court of Ecuador, the highest court in the land, agreed to hear the case of the threatened Los Cedros Reserve by using the Rights of Nature enshrined in the constitution. The court hearing begins on Monday 19th October.

Peter Bennett, the founder of Rainforest Concern, which has been working with Los Cedros on its legal case, said: "Los Cedros is a pristine cloud forest reserve and home to an incredible biodiversity of plant and animal species, including six species of cat, three species of primate and the endangered Andean spectacled bear, with new species still being discovered. Approximately 750,000 hectares of protected forests and a million hectares of indigenous lands in Ecuador are covered with mining concessions, so a positive ruling to protect Los Cedros would set a precedent for the other 186 Protected Forests in Ecuador, totalling some 2.4 million hectares, and set an example for the rest of the world".

Edgar Merlo who heads the legal team for Los Cedros, said: “The [Constitutional] Court’s ruling in this case will be a first in Ecuador on the Rights of Nature.. The final judgment by the Constitutional Court in this case could change the legal focus in Ecuador, South America, and the entire world on the Rights of Nature and the rights of local communities, so that mining concessions are not granted in Protected Forests.”

To sign the petition and for further details, please see https://loscedrosreserve.org/s...