Those who live and work in the Galapagos Islands have been working consistently on our sustainable practices for decades. From individual efforts and Non-Governmental Organizations to the local governments, we have been aware of the need to make our island lifestyles sustainable in order to preserve the islands for future generations, for the people as well as the wildlife.
Recycling is a big component of sustainability for the residents, hotel and boat operators., as well as visitors to the islands. Separation of waste at all levels is a requirement; general garbage, organic waste for compost, and clean items for recycling. Some glass items are triturated and when mixed with concrete, used to make paving blocks for sidewalks and streets. On the individual level, residents have learned to make sustainable artisanal products from materials such as paper, wood and glass. Jewelry out of paper, furniture and carvings from introduced woody species, bottles cut, decorated and polished as drinking glasses. The revenue from the sale of these items is many times the mainstay of entire families.
Sustainable fishing practices inside the Galapagos Marine Reserve have been in operation, with the Galapagos National Park Service, in conjunction with the local fishing cooperatives, establishing take/no-take zones, seasons and quotas for commercially valuable marine species, limiting permits to local residents exclusively.
As the human population and demand for food products increases, sustainable practices in the agricultural field has become of vital importance. The importation of food and other necessities poses the greatest risk for the introduction of foreign and potentially invasive species to the islands. To reduce/control this threat, the Galapagos has a special organization and many regulations exclusively dedicated to reducing these potential threats.
Another parallel path towards food sustainability is to Increase the local production of agricultural products. Challenges being worked on are the reduction of dangerous pesticides and access to freshwater in the highlands. Organic farming is on the upswing, and local producers are receiving support in innovative techniques.
Sustainable practices also require changing behaviors that can better protect our fragile ecosystem; from keeping dogs on leashes at all times outside the home, and slowing/stopping traffic during hatching season for marine iguanas. Domestic animals can not only endanger the local wildlife through predation, but also be vectors of disease to the local wildlife. For many years we have had multiple campaigns for the free sterilization and vaccination of domestic pets.
Perhaps one of the most long-lasting techniques we are using to promote sustainable practices is in the education of our youngest generations. In schools, by advertising, by example of their elders, the message is being spread daily, hourly in the community we call the Galapagos Archipelago.