Galapagos National Park protects approximately 97% of the land areas of the archipelago and the marine reserve, about 135,000 Km2.
However, the Islands face one of the greatest threats to biodiversity in the world: invasive species. These species are the second cause of loss of biodiversity on the planet and in Galapagos have decrease entire populations of endemic plants and animals.
Pigs, dogs, cats, rats, goats, donkeys and ants have reduced enormous natural vegetation areas and have destroyed the native species. Very aggressive plants as quinine, guava and different species of blackberries have invaded ecological niches displacing native species.
Pigs and cats eat the eggs of turtles and birds that evolved thousand years before without predators, what makes them easy prey for these animals. Also, goats and donkeys are responsible for the destruction of large areas on the Islands.
The unsustainable use of natural resources, as well as the over-fishing of sharks (whose fishing is illegal), sea cucumbers and lobsters to satisfy especially the Asian market, affect the Islands. Also human settlements produce great pressure on ecosystems. Recently has been identified global climate change as responsible by the severity and occurrence of phenomena such as El Niño, which have a dramatic impact on the archipelago.
A project to control selected introduced species in the Galapagos Islands is currently been applied, as well as the sustainable development of local communities.
The strategies planned for this purpose include the creation of a system to remove the specific introduced species in the estates of farmers (private lands), the construction of a small mobile plant for the process of organic materials; and the production and sale of a variety of organic products including handicrafts, essential oils, dyes, plants resins and herbal extracts.
With the profits generated by these products are organized organic crops in farms, providing a source of income for farmers. This strategy prevents regrowth of problematic species; increases the systems of reforestation with native species; offer education to communities about the problems faced by their environment, improving their ability to protect it and keep it.
Is also been implemented a program of experiential artisanal fisheries, which consists of a tourist fishing: catch fish and then return them alive into the sea; foundations as Wild Aid and several tourism companies are also working with the wives of the fishermen and more than one dozen are already working on cruise ships, and others families are working in a bakery that allows the resident community of the Islands, the daily supply of this product.
If we speak about conservation of the environment, Galapagos is a very important place.
Consequently, gradual changes for its maintenance, which includes the Elimination of foreign species, limitation of people permitted on the Islands, and in particular the creation of programs for the maintenance of this natural treasure, have been applied.
If you want to be part of the change and help to protect the Galapagos Islands, you can find out volunteer programs in Ecuador.