One area in need of renovation
For sustainable human development in Galapagos, the use of land for agriculture and livestock, as is the regulation of imported food products, are fundamental.
Even with water restrictions specific to this archipelago, the particular climatic conditions of the islands create favorable conditions for the growth of a large number of species of cultivated plants.
The islands have an arid area near the coast, but the “upper parts” are green, have deeper soils and precipitate more frequently and are thus more conducive to agriculture and livestock activities.
A model of self-sufficiency
Since the presence of man, the upper parts of the islands were cultivated and exploited. During this period, the land was reputed to be fertile.
Until the end of the nineteenth century, in San Cristobal Island, Manuel J. Cobos came to cultivate 3,000 hectares, and industrialize the production of sugarcane, with the most modern sugar mill in the country at that time.
On the other islands, without arriving at a high-yielding crop, agricultural and livestock farming was crucial to the survival of the islanders.
.to an industry in crisis
In recent decades there were several spontaneous waves of migration from different parts of mainland Ecuador, motivated primarily by the lack of employment and rural poverty.
With the development of tourism and other economic activities in the port cities of the islands, many of the settlers abandoned their farms to become “entrepreneurs” now that overall, services were more profitable than agricultural work.
The increased population also caused a surge in demand for goods and services and greater dependence on the mainland for supplies, as the local supply was unable to respond effectively to this great leap in demand.
With the abandonment of agricultural land, there was an explosion, uncontrollable in some cases, of introduced plants and animals, which later invaded areas of the National Park with very negative effects on the ecosystems and species native and endemic to the islands.
If the profitability of agriculture in the Galapagos has declined, in the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of this century, farming still allows many farm owners to generate consecutive revenue or supplement their income from port activities, ensuring their survival.
However, agricultural production is limited and with little technology. Without maintenance and without investment, the owners take advantage of what the property has to offer (timber, coffee, pasture…).
Strategy of the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park.
CONTROL OF INVASIVE SPECIES IN AGRICULTURAL AREAS
Current legislation (Regulation for Total Control of Introduced Species in the Galapagos Province) states that it is the duty of all persons, natural and legal to contribute in the control of alien species and preventing their entry and dispersal.
In this sense, the DGNP takes as priority, support for management activities in agricultural areas, aimed at control and eradication of those aggressive species that can become potential threats to the survival of ecosystems and species native and endemic to the islands.
CONSERVATION OF ECOSYSTEMS WITH HIGH ECOLOGICAL VALUE
Currently, some of the most threatened ecosystems are within agricultural areas of the archipelago, both for the relatively small area they occupy in the islands as the high number of anthropogenic pressures to which they are subjected. Similarly, these areas are habitat for many endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna.
The DPNG considers it a priority to identify areas of greatest ecological value located in agricultural areas and seek the most appropriate mechanisms (agreement, purchase, exchange, grant, easement, etc.) that ensure conservation of biodiversity and ecological integrity in these areas.
COORDINATION AND PROMOTION OF LOCAL SELF-SUFFICIENCY
The principal means of entry for pests into Galapagos is the import of organic products from the mainland, for consumption by local people.
Therefore, the DGNP considers it a priority in establishing a connection with the associations of farmers and ranchers, as well as with various public and private institutions involved in the agricultural sector, in order to design strategies and lines of action to improve the level self-sufficiency of local communities and meet the growing demand for agricultural products derived from tourism. If the total self-sufficiency of the local and tourist population and is not possible, the regulation of food brought from the mainland, and its relationship with local supply capacity should be priorities for the conservation of Galapagos.
TRAINING AND RESEARCH IN AGRICULTURAL AREAS
Technological innovation and the training of farmers and ranchers are fundamental to reduce the risk of spreading invasive species to the protected area and to enable economic and environmentally sustainable management of agricultural areas of the archipelago.
Therefore, the Galapagos National Park Director prioritizes the implementation of training programs to users in the agricultural area in issues related to pest management, invasive species control, applicating new packages environmentally friendly technology, increasing productivity, improved marketing channels and products strengthening farmers organizations. Also, in collaboration with specialized international and national institutions, the importance of territorial planning of the agricultural zone is acknowledged and scientific research and applied technology to resolve major problems affecting this sector is promoted.
COORDINATION OF QUARANTINE CONTROL ACTIVITES
The Directorate of the Galapagos National Park believes that prevention is the best tool to avoid the impacts generated by introduced species on ecosystems in the Galapagos.
As stated in the Special Law for Galapagos and the Regional Plan, the Ministry of Agriculture through the Ecuadorian Agency for Agro Quality Assurance (AGROCALIDAD) will handle the inspection and quarantine at ports and airports of embarkation and disembarkation of both people and cargo, in coordination with other agencies with related responsibilities.
The Directorate of the Galapagos National Park assumes its role as a responsible member of the Committee for Agricultural Health and Inspection and Quarantine System, with the powers and competencies under the Regulation for Total Control of Introduced Species in the Galapagos Province.