In its 34th session, where it named new locations to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, the World Heritage Committee has removed the Galapagos Islands from its list of endangered sites, following Brazil's request for the committee's appraisal. Inscribed in 2007 for the threats to the archipelago's eco-system, the committee recognized Ecuador's efforts to address the effect of the increase in tourism, illegal settlers to the mainland and particularly the introduction of invasive species to the region on land and in the ocean.
We know of one tour operator that is already excited about the news. Adventure Associates, a Dallas-based tour operator that only runs Galapagos cruise expeditions onboard yachts such as La Pinta and Isabela II as well as the Finch Bay Eco Hotel, has long been committed to preservation and conservation of the islands. Through its parent company, Metropolitan Touring, Adventure Associates has been part of Fundación Galápagos-Ecuador, a private initiative to help preserve the island ecosystems of the Galápagos. Since 1998 the foundation has initiated many local conservation efforts, including:
* Enlisted the local fishing community to clean up and recycle floating debris that washes ashore in the Galápagos. Such debris is harmful to marine turtles and sea lions, nesting birds and mangroves. Local participants, who have collected more than 178,000 pounds of solid debris, receive economic incentives for their efforts.
* Joined Santa Cruz Island and Galapagos National Park to develop the Fabricio Valverde Center to manage solid waste in the Galapagos. More than 4.5 million pounds of solid waste has been recycled thus far, preserving fragile island topsoil.
* Spread environmental education among locals and invited local students to join expeditions to gain a better understanding of island ecosystems.
* Supported the RELUSAN initiative to collect burned oils and other toxic materials for shipment and proper disposal on the mainland. Burned oils are serious pollutants in the Galapagos, whose the fragile ecosystems are incapable of diffusing such components. More than 17,000 gallons of burned oil and 6,000 Kg of oil filters have been shipped out as a result.
* Inspired community social projects such as “Fun Galápagos” and “Bread for the Future,” which generate income for and contribute to the well being of locals.
Sounds like they really know what makes a vacation there.
Situated 620 miles west of Ecuador's coast, the Galapagos archipelago, has among its 13 islands and 17 islets, plant and animal life, which designated it a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.