Monica Feria-Tinta is acting, as amicus curiae, in the first world case on the Rights of Nature before the Constitutional Court of Ecuador.
Ecuador was the first country to include the Rights of Nature in its constitution and it could become the first to protect large areas of biodiversity, based upon this constitutional innovation setting a precedent worldwide. The Constitution of Ecuador provides that “Nature, where life is reproduced and occurs, has the right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes”.
In a ruling dated 18 May 2020, the Constitutional Court selected the case of ‘Los Cedros’ to be heard, and applied for the first time Ecuador’s constitutionally mandated Rights of Nature.
Los Cedros forest is located in north western Ecuador and one of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world, with more than 4,800 hectares (nearly 12,000 acres) of primary cloud forest. Three rivers are born in Los Cedros and it is home to 299 tree species per hectare, 400 species of orchids (only 187 identified so far) and many notable rainfrogs (almost all in danger of extinction). Los Cedros is also home to 317 species of birds including the cloud forest Pygmy owl (Glaucidium nubicola) and six wild cat species (including jaguars). Los Cedros is the home of many endemic species including the last critically endangered brown-headed spider monkeys in the world, as well as the endangered Andean spectacled bear, which inspired the beloved fictional character “Paddington Bear”.
Large scale metal mining concession threatens Los Cedros forest. This has given rise to a legal challenge which is now to be heard by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador.
Monica’s amicus raises Ecuador’s obligations under the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, the Aichi Targets, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, The Paris Agreement, the 1972 UNESCO Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage, as well as regional agreements specific to the Americas, all of which are directly justiciable in Ecuador’s legal system.
The Amicus was filed today.