The Most Biologically Diverse Place on Earth


Yasuni national park has more species of life than anywhere else in the world. The park is at the center of a small zone where amphibian, bird, mammal, and vascular plant diversity all reach their maximum levels within the Western Hemisphere. The park breaks world records for local-scale (less than 100 km2) tree, amphibian, and bat species richness, and is one of the richest spots in the world for birds and mammals at local scales as well.

The park also has one of the world’s richest levels of vascular plants. It is one of nine places in the world that has over 4,000 vascular plant species per 10,000 km2. The park contains many species of trees and shrubs and holds at least four world records for documented tree and liana richness as well as three world records for diversity in woody plant species. The park also hosts a list endemic species such as 43 different species of vertebrates and 220–720 different plant species

“The 150 amphibian species documented to date throughout Yasuní is a world record for an area of this size,” said Shawn McCracken of Texas State University. “There are more species of frogs and toads within Yasuní than are native to the United States and Canada combined.” “Yasuní is at the center of a small zone where South America’s amphibians, birds, mammals, and vascular plants all reach maximum diversity,” said Dr. Clinton Jenkins of the University of Maryland.


Deep in the heart of Amazonian Ecuador, between the Napo and Curaray rivers in Napo and Pastaza provinces, lies what may be the most biologically diverse place on the planet. The park is about 250 km from Quito and was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989. It is within the claimed ancestral territory of the Huaorani indigenous people.

Yasuni is also home to two uncontacted indigenous tribes, the Tagaeri and the Taromenane. Yasuni  is also home to an estimated 800 million barrels of crude oil – 20% of Ecuador’s reserves,  Environmentalists and scientists urged the government to leave the resources untapped.  As the result, President Rafael Correa launched the Yasuní-ITT Initiative to protect the park’s natural resources in June 2007. The initiative promised to leave the park undisturbed in exchange for compensation from the international community