Devastating Effects of the Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados Essay

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Devastating Effects of the Oleoducto de Crudos Pesados

Although relatively small in size, Ecuador is one of the most biologically diverse nations in the world. A drastic range of altitude and geographical diversity in such a small area has resulted in a high number of diverse climactic regions. Because of their very different climates and altitudes, Ecuador’s four main regions, the lowland Pacific Coast, the Andes Mountains, the Amazon rainforest, and the Galapagos Islands, are each home to a wide variety of plant and animal species. These many distinct ecosystems and the hundreds of endemic species residing within Ecuador’s borders have led scientists to classify it as a biodiversity “hotspot”.

Ecuador’s rich biodiversity and
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However, the environmental effects caused by the oil industry in Ecuador are not limited to the Amazon region. The construction of the OCP (heavy crude oil pipeline) threatens many of the nation’s other fragile ecosystems. The pipeline, which would connect oil sources in the Amazon with the ocean port and refineries of Esmeraldas on the Pacific Coast, runs over the Andes through various protected areas and reserves and regions of high tourism activity. (OCP alert, 2) The high range of altitudes (up to 6300 meters) of the Andes, through which the pipeline will run, provides fragile and diverse habitats for a variety of plants and animals. Also, the many isolated areas of the Andean region have led to the evolution of an unusually large number of endemic species.

The pipeline will traverse the extremely unique ecosystem of the Andean paramo. The high altitude paramo region begins at the upper edge of the mountain forests and extends as high as the glacier line of about 5000 meters. The paramo is characterized by a harsh, high altitude climate. It is generally cold and dry (although some areas can be swampy), and supports low lying vegetation like shrubs and grasses. (High Altitude Paramo, no page) The paramo is important to other ecosystems of Ecuador because of its role as a water source. Melted ice from glaciers is filtered by grasses and collects in the paramo’s many lakes. This region is inhabited almost exclusively by marginalized indigenous
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