Complicity between conservation and tourism
There are a lot of good headlines from the Galapagos Islands. One is: The Galapagos Islands are a spectacular success story, maybe even man’s greatest triumph in the fight to save our natural heritage. Alongside the Serengeti, the islands have long epitomized the idea of a paradise to be preserved at any cost.
No other archipelago in the world currently enjoys as many protections as this group of islands about 1,000 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador. In no other place on earth is 95% of the biodiversity from its early days of creation preserved—and this includes both flora and fauna.
It was high time for protection when Ecuador declared the Galapagos Islands a national park in 1959. Settlement and the exploitation of their unique nature by the new residents had reached unacceptable levels. The same is true of the declaration of the surrounding waters as a marine reserve in 1998, extending the protection to the underwater world.
Preserving the Galapagos Islands is an ongoing struggle against the threats of civilization: trash, items brought by visitors or carried in by the wind, stray oil tankers and much more. And yet every visitor to this heaven on earth also helps us win the fight. Since the national park was founded, there has been close complicity between conservation and tourism. Tourists take word of the treasures of the Galapagos out into every corner of the world, increasing the willingness to protect them. Conservationists perform the brilliant feat of keeping the flora and fauna from being destroyed by outside species. Also, it goes without saying that preserving and protecting the last paradise on earth costs a lot of money.
So to the question “Can there be tourists in this natural paradise?”, the answer is a clear yes! In fact, there must be. The state of Ecuador alone does not have the resources needed to preserve the Galapagos Islands, and expecting this of the international community is a delusion. Our goal at Galapagos PRO is make a major contribution the preservation of the archipelago within our means.