Conservation in the Galapagos Islands

Geographical location:

Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Ecuador

Galapagos National Park. Colony of Marine Iguanas with the Fernandina Volcano in background, Fernandina Island, Galapagos, Ecuador.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Summary

The Galapagos Islands, 1,000km west of Ecuador, are distinguished by remarkable wildlife found nowhere else in the world: the Galapagos tortoise, the world’s only seagoing lizards, the flightless cormorant, Darwin’s finches and the Galapagos penguin. The islands are also distinguished by the degree to which they have remained relatively intact, retaining nearly all their original biodiversity.

Today, however, the islands are under threat from overgrazing, over-harvesting of marine resources, tourism and introduced non-native animals such as goats and pigs. WWF has worked in the Galapagos since 1961, protecting key sites and wildlife populations, as well as supporting scientific research, environmental education and protected areas management.

Background

When Charles Darwin arrived on the Galapagos Islands in 1835 he found a living laboratory of species adaptability that came to inspire his revolutionary theory of evolution.

The archipelago - 1000 kilometres west of Ecuador - are distinguished by remarkable wildlife found nowhere else: the Galapagos tortoise, the world’s only seagoing lizards, the flightless cormorant, the famous Darwin’s finches and the Galapagos penguin. The islands are also distinguished by the degree to which they have remained intact, retaining nearly all the biodiversity present thousands of years ago.

But there are real threats nevertheless. They include overgrazing, man-made fires, poaching, over-harvesting of marine resources, tourism and agriculture. The islands’ many reefs are also under the pressure from various human activities.

Objectives

1. Mobilize conservation action at the ecoregional scale.

2. Protect key sites and wildlife populations.

3. Lay the foundation for lasting conservation of the Galapagos Islands.

Solution

WWF has worked in Galapagos with various partners since 1961 in the area of protected area management, policy, capacity building, environmental education and research. Over the years, WWF has supported scientific research and worked to minimize threats to the islands like eradication of exotic species and illegal fishing.

WWF has also worked extensively on policy issues related to Galapagos conservation, actively supporting the passage of the Galapagos special law and regulations. WWF has supported the Marine Management Plan and strengthened the capacity of Galapagos National Park staff.

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