Ecuador Announces Measures to Protect Galapagos Islands

(Picture: Visitors to the Charles Darwin research centre overcrowd the tortoises visiting pens. UNESCO/Daniel Fitter) Last April, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), warned that the increase of tourism was damaging the Galapagos Islands' fragile ecosystem and in late June, the organism included the territory in its List of World Heritage in Danger. The Ecuador government had reacted to the announcement promising measures to protect the islands and on July 6, the sub secretary of National Patrimony Mario Brito communicated seven measures to be adopted in order to get the territory out of the Danger List. Those are:

El Comercio via Spanish BBC• To put in order the islands administration, coordinating efforts from different organizations and the State;
• The implementation of an educational reform in the entire archipelago;
• A control plan in the species that have been introduced by man;
• The reorientation of the massive tourism model, which has already caused the cancellation of authorization for the Discovery tourism ship to enter the islands for exceeding the permitted tourists limits;
• A population control and the deportation of illegal habitants, which won't be implemented immediately the sub secretary said;
• A depuration of the fishing permissions; and
• The redesign and rationalization of the public budget for the islands, for which there will be a workshop in the islands next July 13.

Brito pointed that even though the Unesco did not fix a term for the country to take action, "the government has disposed these urgent measures with the goal of getting out of the Danger List".

The Galapagos are located in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 kilometers from the South American continent. Its 19 islands and their surrounding marine reserve have been called "a unique living museum and showcase of evolution", according to the Unesco.

The organization claimed, "They are threatened by invasive species, growing tourism and immigration: the number of days spent by passengers of cruise ships has increased by 150 percent over the past 15 years. This increase has fueled a growth in immigration and the ensuing inter-island traffic has led to the introduction of more invasive species".

Inscribed in 1978, the Galapagos is the first site to have been placed on the World Heritage List. ::Original story (Spanish) ::BBC Spanish story ::Galapagos and Niokolo-Koba National Park inscribed on Unesco's List of World Heritage in Danger ::Unesco Mission confirms threat to Galapagos Islands

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