Ecuador has more species per unit area than any other country, a unique ecology that is now uniquely protected under its constitution. But upholding these highly commendable conservation policies is a challenge.
For example, a landmark legal precedent was set in a lawsuit brought in early 2011 against the local government for damages to the Vilcabamba River caused by a road-construction project. The defendant was ordered to pay for recuperation of the river. One year on, there has still been no substantial remediation (see go.nature.com/6m4aea).
In light of this situation, we are concerned that the imminent strip mining in southern Ecuador of gold and copper ore worth US$200 billion could put a serious strain on the country's legal system and its environmental policies.