On Thursday, the Ecuadorian government issued an environmental permit with the signed approval of its Environment Ministry for oil drilling in the Amazon's Yasuni National Park.

Ecuador President Rafeal Correa scrapped his initial offer last year to protect the reserve from exploration if wealthy nations paid his government, The Associated Press reported.

Correa also rejected environmentalists' pleas to exempt the preserve while his country's electoral council deemed a petition that sought to stop drilling in the Amazon reserve as invalid earlier this month.

Following Thursday's announcement, Environment Minister Lorena Tapia said on state television that production could begin in 2016 and would provide camps and access roads. She added that her department would "care for and preserve the country's most important and best-monitored protected area."

The U.N. declared the 6,500-square-mile Yasuni park a biosphere reserve in 1989 because two groups living in voluntary isolation currently inhabit the area, according to the AP.

The permit allows the state-owned Petroamazonas EP to begin the development of two oil fields in the Amazon. One of the fields, the Tiputini, is just outside Yasuni, and the other site, Tambococha, is the UNESCO biosphere reserve, Fox News Latino reported.

After a 10-hour debate back in October, the Ecuador congress approved the extraction of oil from the pristine Amazon reserve in a 108-25 vote, Al Jazeera reported.

Correa dropped his plan for rich countries to pay Ecuador to prevent drilling because the plan never gained enough traction. Ecuador only raised $13 million out of the $3.6 billion Correa had hoped for.

When the president announced his plan in 2007, environmentalists praised Correa for his efforts to preserve the environment, which they felt set a precedent in the on-going fight against global warming, according to Al Jazeera.

Correa blamed the international community, however, for not paying into his plan that would have compensated the country not to drill for oil, Fox reported.

"Regrettably, we must say that the world has failed us," Correa said last August.