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PRESS RELEASE: Ecuador’s Constitutional Court Enforces Constitutional Rights of Nature to Safeguard Los Cedros Protected Forest

Dec 12, 2021 | Community News, News, Press Releases, Rights of Nature | 0 comments

Photo by Andreas Kay (

Constanza Prieto Figelist, Earth Law Center,+1 (202) 621-3877 cpfigelist@earthlaw.orgNatalia Greene, Alianza Global por los Derechos de la Naturaleza, +593 99 944 3724, nati.greene@gmail.comAlejandro Olivera, Centro de Diversidad Biológica, +52 612 1040604,

For Immediate Release: 
December 2, 2021 

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QUITO, ECUADOR— In an unprecedented ruling, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador has applied Ecuador’s constitutional provision on the “Rights of Nature” to safeguard Los Cedros Protected Forest from mining concessions. The Court voted 7 in favor and 2 abstentions.

With the ruling, published on December 1st, the Constitutional Court ordered that activities that threaten the Rights of Nature should not be carried out within Los Cedros Protected Forest, thereby prohibiting mining and all types of extractive activities. Water and environmental permits to mining companies will now also be denied. 

Two-thirds of the reserve is covered by mining concessions granted to the Ecuadorian state mining company, ENAMI, and its Canadian partner, Cornerstone Capital Resources. The Constitutional Court agreed to hear the case in May 2020.

The Court’s decision also imposes a series of orders on the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition to comply with the decision. These include orders for the Ministry to help construct a participatory plan for managing the Los Cedros Protected Forest and to ensure respect for the Rights of Nature and the right to a healthy environment. The Court also ordered the government to adopt regulations so that the future issuance of environmental records and licenses and the use of water for extractive activities avoid violating the Rights of Nature, as in the case of Los Cedros.

Overall, this decision clearly details the effects of the Rights of Nature for administrative authorities in a way that was unprecedented.

“This case is emblematic not only for Ecuador but also for the international community,” said Alejandro Olivera, senior scientist and Mexico representative at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This progressing and innovative ruling protects the imperiled wildlife, such as the endangered brown-headed spider monkeys and endangered spectacled bears, from mining companies.”

In September 2020, Earth Law Center, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, the Center for Biological Diversity, International Rivers, and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center (“Coalition”) filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief (Spanish; English) before the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court. The brief asked the Court to protect Los Cedros and robustly enforce constitutional provisions that establish the Rights of Nature, or “Pachamama,” including the rights to exist, to restoration, and the unique rights of rivers, especially the Magdalena River.

“This is a historic victory in favor of Nature. The Constitutional Court states that no activity that threatens the Rights of Nature can be developed within the ecosystem of Los Cedros Protected Forest, including mining and any other extractive activity. Mining is now banned within this amazing and unique protected forest. This sets a great juridical precedent to continue with other threatened Protected Forests. Today, the endangered frogs, the spectacled bears, the spider monkey, the birds, and Nature as a whole have won an unprecedented battle”, says Natalia Greene from the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. 

“It is undoubtedly good news, but the situation of Los Cedros Protected Forest is not an isolated event in Ecuador,” said Constanza Prieto Figelist, Latin American Legal Director at Earth Law Center. “This is a problem of the forests throughout the country. In recent years, many mining concessions that overlap with Protective Forests have been awarded.

”The brown-headed spider monkey, found in Los Cedros, has lost more than 80% of its original area of distribution in northwest Ecuador. In 2005, it was estimated that there were fewer than 250 brown-headed spider monkeys globally, granting the species a place among the top 25 most endangered primates in the world.

The groups note that the case is of great significance, both for Ecuador and the world, because it has the potential to establish important and influential “Earth jurisprudence” that will help guide humanity to be a benefit rather than a destructive presence within the community of life. The proposed mining is unlawful, the Coalition say, because it violates the rights of the Los Cedros Protected Forest as an ecosystem as well as the rights of the many members of that living community.

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Earth Law Center ( is a non-governmental organization based in the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada that promotes the application of the Rights of Nature at the local and international levels. The organization creates alliances with local organizations to recognize and promulgate laws that recognize the inherent rights of rivers, oceans, and coastal and terrestrial ecosystems. Thus, it seeks to make a paradigm shift, fighting for the formal recognition of the rights of nature to exist, prosper and evolve. Earth Law Center aims to grant ecosystems the same rights recognized to people and corporations, allowing them to defend their rights before national and international courts, not only for the benefit of people but also for nature itself.

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN) ( is a dynamic and diverse global network of organizations, communities, and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect, and enforce the Rights of Nature and promote the transformation of how human beings relate to nature. Mother Earth. The members of GARN are a network of organizations, scientists, lawyers, economists, indigenous leaders, authors, spiritual leaders, politicians, actors, business leaders, housewives, students, and activists from more than 100 countries, from six continents of America from North and South, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia, who seek to transform the human relationship with the planet.

The Center for Biological Diversity (“the Center”) ( is a non-profit organization with more than 1.7 million members and constituents. The Center is headquartered in the United States and has offices in the United States and Mexico. For two decades, the Center and its members have worked to protect endangered species and their habitats under state, federal laws, and international treaties due to the increasing number of threats to biodiversity, such as the global problems of climate change, destruction of habitat, and wildlife trade. The Center believes that the health and vigor of human societies and the integrity and wilderness of the natural environment are closely linked. The Center has also worked intensively to prevent destructive activities such as commercial mining in sensitive and important habitats.

International Rivers ( It has been dedicated since 1985 to the protection of rivers and to the defense of the rights of the communities that depend on them. They work to stop destructive projects on rivers and promote energy and water supply solutions for a sustainable planet. Rivers are vital to sustain all life on earth. A world is sought where rivers are healthy and the rights of local communities are valued and protected. We envision a world where water and energy needs are met without degrading nature or increasing poverty, and where people have the right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center ( is a non-governmental organization based in Detroit, United States, which offers the community education, legal and legal support on environmental issues. In addition to providing a variety of legal, policy development and environmental services related to natural resources and energy that affect communities in and around Detroit, throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes region.


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