Friday, October 3, 2008

Ecuador Grants Rights to "Mother Earth"

Earlier this year, the Catholic church updated its list of deadly sins to include polluting the environment. But now, even non-Catholics -- at least in Ecuador -- have been put on notice: The country has just voted in a new constitution that includes five revolutionary articles granting legal rights to nature (described in the document as "Pachamama," the mother Earth goddess of the indigenous Andean people). One of the most biodiverse nations on the planet, it is now the first to give such far-reaching legal protection to the natural world.

The relevant sections were written with the help of the Community Environment Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based organization that has helped communities seeking similar protections in fights against such non-eco-friendly developments as coal mining and factory farming. Though they didn't get a chance to vote on it, the sac-winged bat, the giant armadillo, the giant otter (pictured) and other endangered inhabitants of Ecuador can breathe a little easier now that they can have their day in court too.

  • Read "Ecuador grants rights to nature" (Nature, September 29, 2008)
  • Read a list of Ecuador's threatened and endangered species (
  • Visit the Community Environment Legal Defense Fund
  • Take an eco-tour of Ecuador
  • Sign the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights
photo courtesy digitalART2, Creative Commons

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