Ecuador’s environment ministry has approved the environmental assessment plans to drill for oil in Ishpingo, the last field of the controversial ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini) project in Yasuni National Park.Saving Yasuni from oil extraction has long been a priority for conservationists, since former president Rafael Correa launched the ITT initiative in 2007, asking for international donations in return for keeping oil in the ground. The initiative failed in 2013.Ishpingo is the most controversial of the three ITT fields as it overlaps with the Intangible Zone, home to two uncontacted indigenous communities, the Tagaeri and Taromenane; the government claims it will not expand into this area.The Ecuadoran government also signed a new decree that now allows oil platforms to be constructed within the Intangible Zone’s buffer area, which was previously forbidden. QUITO, Ecuador — Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park sits in a unique position on the equator, between the Andes mountain range and the Amazon rainforest, which has allowed a rich and distinct biodiversity to flourish. The region is surrounded by towering ceibo and mahogany trees, emblematic of the area, as well as hundreds of endemic birds, mammals and amphibians. Traveling down the Yasuni River at the far east of the park, it’s hard to really fathom this diversity that surrounds you, as lush green jungle extends for miles on either side. Yet conservationists are worried. Earlier this year, the Ecuadoran government approved two new controversial plans to drill for oil farther into Yasuni National Park, which will also encroach on the Intangible Zone (known by its Spanish acronym ZITT), a special area within the park created to protect the two uncontacted indigenous nations that live there, the Tagaeri and Taromenane. In April, the Ministry of Environment approved plans to open two platforms of the Ishpingo oil field, the third phase of the controversial Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) project. Ishpingo is the most contentious field in the ITT project as it is the largest and overlaps with the ZITT and its buffer zone, an area 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide that surrounds the ZITT. Then in May, President Lenín Moreno signed a new decree that allows oil platforms to be constructed within the Intangible Zone’s buffer area, which was previously forbidden. Yasuni National Park has long been controversial for being an area rich in biodiversity that also has some of Ecuador’s largest oil reserves, in a country that is highly dependent on oil revenue. Activists say these recent decisions will have major environmental repercussions in a region that was once a beacon of hope for global conservation, and on the two indigenous nations that live in voluntary isolation there.