Our work at Fundación Galápagos-Ecuador throughout 2008 has been truly a successful one amidst all current world issues and financial needs. Since our mission focuses in generating sustainability in the Galápagos Islands, we have to permanently find the most efficient ways of continuing with our work. In 2008 we reached the 3 million-pound mark at recycling solid waste, and while this gives us new challenges, we also took 48 students on ship expeditions throughout the islands. But other results are out there too; over the years we have enhanced our relationship with the local Municipal Government of Santa Cruz Island, and their work has solidified their presence with the local community. We are also working hand in hand with the highland farmers who provide us with fresh and great vegetable products. Naturally, we are sharing our work consistently with our wholesalers, clients, guests, and company staff.
The stories on this newsletter aim at illustrating better what we do, why we are committed to our work, and how you can also be part of it. We must remember the issue of human impact in the Galápagos Islands is a reality, and such impact is generated by both residents and visitors. Although visitor numbers to the islands have increased in the last two decades, and so that of the local population, everybody appreciates the intimate contact with wildlife and nature that Galápagos fosters. These islands are home to the only tropical penguin on Earth, as well as the only flightless cormorant. Additionally, the only tropical albatross, Darwin’s finches, giant tortoises, and flamingos live here right next to prickly-pear cactus. From any angle you look at these islands, whether scientific or laymen, there’s one thing in common: uniqueness.
From a more philosophical approach, it seems mankind has little to do with how life takes shape on these islands. Nothing around here suits mankind in terms of survival. Yet, humans visit these islands, while others have decided to reside here. That alone brings another question: the issue of balance. How much do these islands benefit from humans and how much do humans benefit from these islands? Finding balance in such an isolated world is not easy. The challenges faced by tour operators in order to provide good service, facilities, etc, next to an island world that needs to be fully protected, is not an easy task. This same dilemma was addressed at our table and in 1998 we decided to establish Fundación Galápagos-Ecuador, a non-profit organization committed to generating sustainability for the islands environmental and social components.
Its mission started as, and continues to be, waste management of the islands, particularly Santa Cruz Island where most inhabitants reside. If we think of a sensible way of acting upon current realities of the islands, it is the presence of humans that need the most actions and awareness. A clean and well-managed environment, can assure a better handling of the present situation, allowing future generations to enjoy the Galapagos Islands.
Ten years later, and happy to share our results, we continue to concentrate our efforts in four major aspects of the islands: