Ecuadorians have voted to end oil drilling in a protected area of the Amazon Rainforest, following a national referendum.
Yasuní National Park is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. It’s also home to a number of Indigenous communities.
The referendum coincided with an early election to replace President Guillermo Lasso. The President dissolved Parliament in May to avoid impeachment.
Throughout his presidency, Lasso argued that oil drilling was crucial to Ecuador’s economy.
In February last year, Ecuador’s highest court ruled Indigenous communities must have greater say over oil drilling on their land.
A referendum is a vote where all people in a country give their opinion on an issue of political, legal, or social importance.
In this referendum, six in 10 Ecuadorians voted in favour of banning the future development of oil wells, according to Ecuador’s National Electoral Commission.
Voting took place at the same time as the first round of presidential elections on Sunday.
Oil operations will now cease in the area which holds some of Ecuador’s largest oil reserves.
Local mining advocates told CNN it could lead to a “tremendous financial burden” for the country’s economy, however, climate activists and Indigenous leaders have celebrated the result.
Indigenous Waorani leader Nemonte Nenquimo told The Guardian the decision is “a major victory for all Indigenous peoples, for the animals, the plants, the spirits of the forest and our climate.”