To ensure conservation of the Galapagos we should work at having science on one hand and people on the other. People are of concern as they are the root-cause for much of the environmental degradation that has already taken place. They are responsible for the introduction and dispersal of exotic organisms, the depletion of species and resources and environmental pollution. At the same time, we must rely on humans for a solution to several conservation problems. Education and capacity building play a paramount role in achieving long lasting conservation results. Recent studies have shown that although the Galapagos Islands have the lowest rate of illiteracy in all of Ecuador, the quality of education on the islands is low and many students do not qualify to attend institutions of higher education in other parts.
Raising the quality of education and offering opportunities for further education to Galapaguenos is fundamental for the long-term conservation of the Galapagos. Education is key in order to empower the local ‘Galapaguenos’ to manage the sustainable development and protection of their unique and fragile homeland in a climate of steeply growing tourism.
In the words of Baba Dioum in his 1968 New Delhi speech: “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”
Isabela Island possesses the largest body of land in all the archipelago and houses 6 major volcanoes with lava flows emanating from them.
The names of the 6 volcanoes are Alcedo, Cerro Azul, Darwin, Ecuador, Sierra Negra and Wolf. Living around the volcanoes of which 5 are active lives an isolated unique giant tortoise subspecies.
The main area of the population inhabiting the island are located in Puerto Villamil, Southern coastline and houses around 3,000 resident. The area is surrounded by many lagoons, flamingoes and common stilts. The people of Puerto Villamil make their living principally by artisanal fishing and tourism.
The town's beach is a spectacular two-mile stretch of silky bone-colored sand sprouting swaying palms in just the right spots. A five-minute walk from town, you will find a tucked-away lagoon sprouting flamingos. Hikers will appreciate the numerous trails heading inland and up the sides of the Island's volcanoes.
Two important problems of the town include increased migration and efforts to stop it, and conflicts between the fishing and conservation sectors. One key issue is the illegal fishing of sharks adn the harvesting of lobsters and sea cucumbers outside of their permitted seasons.
Despite these problems the Galapagos Islands are considered to be a good example of the way in which environmental conflicts can be resolved in a peaceful manner. During the last decade various institutions have been created in order to allow different stakeholders a participatory role in the decision making process.
Southwest of Villamil by dinghy you can also view the penguins along rocky shores. You can view further clusters of penguins also in Elizabeth Bay. The major site on the island is the crater spanning 3 miles in radius and the largest one in the world but to view the giant tortoise inhabiting the volcanoes circumference it will take a day to climb unless you go via horseback or pick up truck.