U.N. Warns Galapagos Islands in Danger

The United Nations on Tuesday declared Ecuador's Galapagos Islands in danger as booming tourism and immigration threaten giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies unique to the archipelago, Reuters reports. "They are threatened by invasive species, growing tourism and immigration," the UNESCO's world heritage committee meeting in New Zealand said in a statement. The volcanic islands, 625 miles west of Ecuador's coast, inspired British naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. "This is a good thing because it will highlight the islands' problems," said Linda Cayot, a science advisor with Galapagos Conservancy. "It will push not only Ecuador, but conservationist groups to support work there." The islands' growing tourism has lured thousands of workers' from the poor mainland to work in construction, restaurants and cruise ships. Some bring non-native species such as goats, which compete for food with centenarian tortoises. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa declared the islands at risk in April and has vowed to impose more rigorous population restrictions, not issue any new tourism permits and possibly suspend some tourism permits temporarily.