Growing Population and pressures | October 14th, 2009

What hasn’t happened is the control of immigration provided for in the law.  The population has massively increased and with it the pressures on the environment.

The legislation provides strong powers to control immigration. But the agency responsible isn’t using those powers well, and there seems little political will to implement the intent of the Act.  You can now see residents of the main town wearing t-shirts declaring that they are illegal immigrants and proud of it.

Even if the population was uniformly sympathetic to the special values of the Galapagos, the sheer numbers (currently around 20,000) would still create problems – rubbish generation, the risk of oil spills, the need to provide housing, roads, food, etc.  And of course, most people move to the Galapagos for economic reasons and have no appreciation of the values and vulnerabilities of the natural ecosystems. Education programmes can change that, but with the constant flow of new immigrants, the developing community commitment to conservation is always being undermined.

That said, there have been major, successful programmes aimed at building community support for conservation and environmental management.  One recent initiative was the launch of the Charles Darwin Foundation-produced book “Plant Me in Your Garden”.  This aims to encourage residents to use native plants in their gardens rather than plant imported species.