Rain Forest for Ransom

Ecuador's demand: Pay us or we'll drill for oil in the Amazon. Should the world say yes?

Sebastian Liste for TIME

Ecuador's Napo River feeds into the Amazon in oil-rich Yasuni National Park

The canoes slip from the dock, the morning mist still clinging to Anangucocha Lake in eastern Ecuador's Yasuni National Park. The Amazon rain forest has yet to fully awaken. Then a small squirrel monkey scurries along a branch arching over the river, followed by another and then another. Soon the trees are full of families of bounding squirrel monkeys. This is wildlife--more vibrant than I've ever seen--treating the great Amazon forest like a playpen. "There are such wonders here," says Luis Garcia, a 46-year-old nature guide and native of the region. "This is why Yasuni is a paradise."

Yasuni National Park--a...

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