Nowhere on earth can you find a place as diverse as the Galapagos Islands with about 1,300 species. It is in danger.

Calling the Galapagos as the earth’s most astonishing, Sir David Attenborough believes that tourism has a very important role in the conservation of the islands. According to Attenborough, they are deeply worried at the GCT or Galapagos Conservation Trust  with regard to UNESCO’s final decision not to include Galapagos Islands on the list of the World Heritage Sites that are in danger. It might give the people the belief that the islands natural beauty are not in danger. The GCT, being the sole British charity dedicated to save the islands is aware of the risks faced by the very diverse environment and wildlife of the islands.

The biodiversity and significance of the Galapagos includes roughly 1,300 species located only in the said islands gave them the title in 1978 as among the first to be declared as a World Heritage Site. However, humans made devastations since their intervention on the Galapagos. The islands economy and population unsustainably and rapidly expanded; made people who are in need of resources at the same time factors such as waste and pollution. Issues being raised are truly one of a kind in Galapagos but it is very important to balance the needs of humans and nature in this corner of the globe.

The growth is either indirectly or directly because of tourism. The booming tourist industry is being blamed by experts and was the primary reason why UNESCO declared the island among the heritage sites in danger since 2007.An increased of 12,000 visitors annually starting 1979 to even 160,000 visitors today, mirrors the pattern in the rise of both invasive population and species. Among the “critically endangered” are over 40 species found in the island of Galapagos.

In 2007, some issues were taken cared by the Ecuadorian government. Some safety measurements like quarantine and immigration have been strictly watched out. Additional funds of £10 million were released to combat “invasive species”, the governance of the island was also improved in different aspects but challenges are still part of everything.

Obviously, tourism plays a major factor to conservation. The income for the past 40 years that came from tourism greatly helped to support conservation related works. A money worth £2 million, given to the GCT went to Galapagos has mainly came from visitors. Still, a well managed model in tourism is much needed. Usually, managed sites are being visited by people through a tiny cruise ship together with a naturalist guide who is well trained. The boats location, number and size are controlled strictly.

Just recently, tourism on land- based from both Ecuadorian visitors and international showed a fast growth .Activities like fishing are becoming popular as well as the mushrooming of bars and nightclubs are needed to be monitored and controlled. A clear set of guidelines must be outlined and implemented by authorities to determine what kind of tourism will truly benefit Galapagos. The possibility of the Galapagos not to cope with big number of tourism may greatly affect the ecosystem. A review being done is on the process but to feel the impact is still premature.

Poor management could ruin the Galapagos while a tourism well planned could help. The reason why UNESCO”s verdict is still very much premature. Although not being part of the endangered heritage sites, still the Galapagos are in high risk.



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