Ecuador reworking Galápagos-protection law
In 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) removed Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands, the international agency’s first-ever World Heritage Site, from its listing of “World Heritage in Danger.” It did so after Ecuadorian authorities had developed plans to address problems including intensive tourism, migration and introduction of exotic species.
The action ended a three-year stint on the Unesco watch list for the 19-island chain, located in the Pacific Ocean 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) off Ecuador’s coast. But while environmental-protection efforts in many ways have indeed been bolstered, pressures on the island chain remain intense—among them, heavy tourism of 170,000 to 180,000 visits annually, the demands of a growing population and the continuing spread of invasive species.
Debate about how best to control these pressures while providing livelihoods for island residents has taken on new urgency in Ecuador’s National Assembly. There, lawmakers are weighing reforms to the 14-year-old legislation governing environmental protection of the islands—the Special Law of the Galápagos.