Sustainability in the Galápagos: Education is the Key to Conservation
The ripple effect of conservation through education is keenly felt in the Galápagos Islands where graduates of Tomás de Berlanga, a bilingual secondary school in Puerto Ayora with a focus on sustainability, have grown up to become advisors to the Ecuadorian Minister of Environment or staff at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
These opportunities are funded through the Scalesia Foundation, a nonprofit that supports learning among local kids in the community. “Education is the missing gap between the communities and the conservation of the Galápagos Islands,” says Johanna Carrión, executive director and CEO of Scalesia. Fostering this connection to their home, which is so priceless and unique, and understanding why it’s special helps natives of the islands develop an integral sense of stewardship.
Conservation Through Education
The first step in respecting such a fragile ecosystem is learning about it. Beyond the pages of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, visitors to the islands will be impressed by the knowledge of Galápagos’ own park rangers and naturalist guides who are with you every step of the journey.
The Galápagos, which are home to thousands of species — many of them endemic — remain strikingly unchanged since the days of Darwin more than a century-and-a-half ago. “What you see in the Galapagos Islands is pretty much what Charles Darwin saw,” according to Fernando Delgado, vice president and general manager of Silversea Cruises in Ecuador. Delgado emphasizes that if we want future generations to experience the same thing, the only effective method is through education.
The Silversea Fund gives directly to these educational efforts in the Galapagos, with 80 percent of what’s raised given toward education while the remaining 20 percent goes to other conservation efforts. Reiterating how precious our natural resources are, Delgado reminds us that there is only one Galápagos.
Expedition leader Xavier García views the remote island chain, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, as a microcosm of the entire planet. “If we can do something little or big here, we can apply it to the entire world.”