You wake with desperation. Across the valley below, the buildings stretch out across the body of the land in a white sea of concrete. As a child, the green skirts of the mountain flowed in an expanse of pastures, cornfields, Eucalyptus forests--dramatically altered landscapes, but still green. Now there is no end to the cement sea. You have watched this psoriasis spread since childhood--the slow creep of urban progress, the slow creep of disease. The earth shudders beneath you.
As a child, in the Amazon, the forest pushed up against the town. You would play at the edges of the clearing and feel the forest breathe. Now the stripped hills roll back beyond the horizon. Most of the forest, clear cut for the cheap wood required to make crates for naranjilla, delicious pesticide-soaked fruit.
In 2000 you take the time to ask and people tell you that loggers pay $300 USD to clear cut 10 hectares of land. In 2000, Ecuador’s deforestation rate is the highest rate in South America. The official logging rate in the Amazon recorded in deforestation journals is $1000 USD per hectare. Not here. 10 hectares cleared for a month worth of wages. $30 per hectare. Since 2000, Ecuador has lost 1,149,000 hectares of forest.
Desperate to communicate the profound impact of this loss, conservationists contextualize it for the obsessive American mind. “Ecuador loses an average of 110 football fields a day,” they write. But a football pitch, roughly half the size of a hectare, has nothing to do with the magnitude of this loss.
A 2010 study published in PloS One, estimates that the Yasuni rainforest harbors over 655 different species of trees per hectare, over 596 species of birds, 4,000 species of plants, and over 200 species of mammals.
We are not losing sports fields. We are losing wild and extraordinary lives.