Ecuador to focus efforts on protecting Galapagos Islands

(04/25/2007)

By Johanna Jainchill

Ecuador will evaluate the implementation of measures aimed at protecting the Galapagos Islands from all activities deemed “non-sustainable”, including limiting tourism arrivals to the archipelago, according to a decision made by a meeting of various government agencies in Quito.

“We are fully committed to continuing to preserve the heritage of the Galapagos Archipelago for future generations to enjoy,” said Maria Isabel Salvador, Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism. “We will continue to protect the islands from all non-sustainable activities.”

In a statement, the Ministry of Tourism’s office said that “at present, all tourism activity in the Galapagos Islands is being carried out normally and in accordance with the current regulations that prioritize the conservation of the archipelago’s eco-system.”

The meeting was held with UNESCO representatives, conservation groups and Ecuador’s ministries of environment, tourism and foreign affairs, as well as the director of the National Park of the Galapagos.

Salvador said during the meeting that the Ecuadorian government, led by President Rafael Correa, is “well aware of the threats faced by the Galapagos Islands which led him to declare the archipelago ‘of national priority for the conservation and environmental management’ of its unique ecosystem.”

Tourism to the Galapagos is controlled to preserve its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The Ministry of Tourism said that the Galapagos National Park has the highest budget of any Ecuadorian public institution, and was increased by 31% in 2006 to $11.1 million, which is mostly focused on reinforcing conservation projects in the archipelago.

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