U.N. Says Ecuador Should Do More to Protect Galapagos

Ecuador should step up efforts to protect the unique ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands from growing tourism and immigration, a United Nations envoy said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. "It is crucial for us to eliminate these threats to secure the conservation of biodiversity...The government has to show its efforts to confront those threats," UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said during a visit to Quito. President Rafael Correa declared the pristine islands at risk in April and said Ecuador would consider suspending some tourism permits. Despite some reports, there have been no discussions of removing existing permits from suppliers already running tours to the islands. More than 145,000 people visited the Galapagos last year. UNESCO could decide in June if the World Heritage site should be declared "in danger," although what effect that would have on tourism is still unclear.