“Rights of Nature” enforced by Ecuador court to protect Los Cedros rainforest in landmark ruling

Mining in the protected region of the Ecuador’s Los Cedros rainforest violates the rights of nature, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court has ruled.

In a landmark ruling earlier this month, the court decided that activities that threaten the rights of nature should not be carried out within the Los Cedros Protected Forest ecosystem.

The ruling bans mining and all types of extractive activities in the protected area. Water and environmental permits to mining companies must also be denied.

The decision means that Ecuador’s government will have to revoke mining permits granted to Enami, Ecuador’s state mining company, and its Canadian partner, Cornerstone Capital Resources, for exploratory operations within the Los Cedros protected area in Ecuador’s northwest region. Seven justices voted in favour of the ruling and two abstained. 

Natalia Greene from the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature said: “This is a historic victory in favor of nature. The Constitutional Court states that no activity that threatens the Rights of Nature can be developed within the ecosystem of Los Cedros Protected Forest, including mining and any other extractive activity.

“Mining is now banned from this amazing and unique protected forest. This sets a great juridical precedent to continue with other threatened Protected Forests. Today, the endangered frogs, the spectacled bears, the spider monkey, the birds and nature as a whole have won an unprecedented battle.”

In September 2020 Earth Law Center, Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, and the Center for Biological Diversity filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief before the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court. The groups asked the court to protect Los Cedros and robustly enforce constitutional provisions that establish basic rights of nature, or “pachamama,” including the right to exist, the right to restoration and the rights of the rivers, especially the river Magdalena.

Alejandro Olivera, senior scientist and Mexico representative at the Center for Biological Diversity, added: “This precedent-setting case is important not only for Ecuador but also for the international community. This progressive and innovative ruling recognizes that nature can and does have rights. It protects Los Cedros’ imperiled wildlife, like the endangered brown-headed spider monkeys and spectacled bears, from mining companies.”

Image Credit: Andreas Kay

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living

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