Linking Livelihoods and Conservation: Challenges Facing the Galapagos Islands

Mark Gardener, Christophe Greiner

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    The Galápagos Islands are hailed as “evolution’s workshop” (Larson 2002): they conjure up images of idyllic isolation, giant tortoises, finches and a visit by Charles Darwin. Less known is that humans have been present in the archipelago since the beginning of the nineteenth century. American whalers and Ecuadorian colonists were early arrivers there, and Darwin mentioned both when he visited the Galápagos in 1835. The immigrant population mostly lived from agriculture and fisheries until the 1970s. Since then, however, tourism has become the major economic means of survival; the tourism-driven economy has attracted many new migrants from ­mainland Ecuador and the resident population has grown at an amazing rate. In 1962, 3 years after the national park was established, Galápagos had 2,300 inhabitants; it had 4,000 inhabitants in 1974 when organized tours of the islands began. In 1990 there were 10,000 residents and 40,000 tourists visiting the islands annually. In 2008 the settled population is estimated at 30,000 and more than 170,000 tourists visit the islands each year. Virtually all food, fuel and consumable goods needed to support the resident, migrant and tourist populations must be imported from the mainland. Despite legislation designed to protect the environment, the sheer number of visitors pushes island resources to their limits. All of the above also increases air and sea transport between the continent and the archipelago, and so the arrival of more invasive species. Yet tourism-driven development continues, threatening both conservation goals and the underlying ecological integrity of the archipelago.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIsland Futures
    Subtitle of host publicationConservation and Development Accross the Asia Pacific Region
    EditorsGodfrey Baldacchino, Daniel Niles
    Place of PublicationTokyo
    Number of pages13
    ISBN (Print)978-4-431-53988-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Publication series

    NameGlobal Environmental Studies
    ISSN (Print)2192-6336


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