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Recent biodiversity research in the Western Amazon has emphasized the linkages among road construction, deforestation and loss of indigenous lands. Many observers have concluded that hydrocarbon production inevitably means destruction of forests and expropriation of native territory. Yet evidence from the eastern lowlands of Ecuador (known as the Oriente) shows that oil can be developed without roads or harmful impacts. The Oriente also provides another contrasting case: in areas where no oil was discovered, the government often built roads to support its agricultural colonization efforts. In these areas, a great deal of deforestation and indigenous displacement occurred. Such evidence suggests that a different set of agrarian and environmental policies might permit oil activity without loss of rain forest or indigenous territory.