Hey guys! I returned from Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands on June 29, and have gratefully had the last few days to get some much-needed rest (living at 10,000 feet in Quito is definitely exhausting!). I’ve also been able to reflect carefully on my trip and my documentation project. While in the Galapagos, something I noticed was development – or the lack thereof, on some islands.
While in Isabela, we stayed in the port village of Puerto Villamil, which is the third-largest human settlement of the Galapagos archipelago. On the car ride up to our hostel, I had noticed very few human settlements; it was mostly farmland. However, as we approached the hostel, there were significantly more houses, hostels, stores, and restaurants. As we approached the boardwalk of Puerto Villamil, there were even rental shops specifically targeted to tourists (all the signs were written in English!). This made me think: at what point does human development infringe upon the animals’ rights to the land? How has it already affected plants and animals?
I directed my concerns to Patricia, who was our local expert. She told me that the Galapagos is actively promoting sustainable development, and that they monitor who comes in and for what purposes. However, humans and tourists have brought in invasive animals and plants like animals and mora (blackberries) that outcompete with native species. It’s something that has been troubling residents of the Galapagos, but they do their best to not interrupt the natural environment around them.