A booming “ecotourism” industry is bringing new threats to the Galapagos, reports a feature in the Wall Street Journal.
Unsustainable tourism development, an influx of workers from the mainland, and introduced species are putting endemic biodiversity and habitats at risk.
“The islands’ fragile ecosystem can be easily disrupted, particularly as the increasing number of planes and ships landing in the Galapagos bring foreign species. Whether insects, snakes or feral cats and dogs, the invaders can wreak havoc by destroying plants and other food sources, eating eggs or attacking birds or mammals,” writes Stan Sesser.
While the Ecuadorian government has recently announced measures to control commercial fishing, restrict immigration, and mitigating damage from alien invasive species, its toughest challenge is addressing tourism.
“It’s not a simple solution, because to limit tourism will be to limit income,” Mauricio Castillo, an official for Unesco in Quito, told the paper.