Communication & Public Relations
This story is part of our news archives, prior to July 2010.
As a junior Emily Howland ’09 studied abroad in Ecuador, where she grew to know and love the people and the land. Now, after graduating with majors in Hispanic studies and English, she has returned to Ecuador to work with the nonprofit Amazon Watch to organize for the protection of this amazingly biodiverse area. After taking a certification course for teaching English, Howland will be living in the town of Tena, part of a bioreserve established to conserve rainforest habitat.
“Tena has about 22,000 inhabitants and is a mix of indigenous and mestizo, or mixed blood, inhabitants,” says Howland. “It is the capital of the Napo province, which is known for having the best tourist infrastructure in Ecuador and prides itself on promoting sustainable agriculture and ecotourism. With a newly built road from Quito to Tena, the influx of tourists has been increasing.”
Now expansion of the oil industry threatens Napo. Howland has joined Amazon Watch, which works to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. Petroleum is a major export of Ecuador, but Howland is working with local business people, farmers, the media, the legal system, and international groups to stop the encroachment of oil companies into the rainforest of Napo.
“Allowing the oil company to take over would be a major gamble on a business that could, on one hand, bring profit, but is sure to cause massive destruction of one of the most biodiverse regions of the world,” says Howland. “Or we could support the region’s development in sustainable living and promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Napo province’s situation is a microcosm of what the world is facing now.”
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