Pollution can be divided into six main categories: air, water, soil, noise, radioactive and visual. Overall, pollution is defined as ‘the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment, causing adverse change.’ The pollutants can be of natural causes, such as volcano ash, or manmade products such as smoke, steam and toxic waste from factories.

In the Galapagos Islands

Waste management and pollution control in Galapagos is an issue growing in importance. The increase of visitors to the Islands in recent years as well as the increase in the permanent residents means that the amount of waste created is growing. Waste and pollution must be minimised as much as possible in order to preserve the unique habitats of not only Galapagos but the world as a whole.

The minimisation of land and sea pollution in Galapagos is of paramount importance. The Galapagos National Park is well maintained and protected by park rangers and volunteers and coastal clean ups are held regularly. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is also highly protected and frequently patrolled. The ocean, however, is filled with buoyant plastic waste, which is a constant threat to every coast, no matter how many patrols are made. Soil and noise pollution is created by the influx of human activity in the Islands, especially the increase in tourist visitors.

The Galapagos National Park aims to keep both the land and sea impeccably clean for the benefit of the local people, the wildlife and the visitors to the Islands. Pollution can have a devastating effect on the native wildlife of Galapagos. Debris in the ocean is mistaken for food by marine creatures and ingested, rubbish can cause injuries or entrapment for both land and marine wildlife, and light pollution can disrupt the migration patterns of birds and turtles.

Tackling pollution

One of the best ways to combat long-term pollution is through education. In 2014, GCT launched an online, bilingual, educational resource: Discovering Galapagos. Discovering Galapagos uses case studies from Galapagos for teaching about globally-relevant conservation issues. It provides teachers with innovative, adaptive resources that can support and create interest within the natural world. The issues faced in the microcosm of Galapagos are of global relevance and the communication of these problems and their potential solutions could influence conservation management strategies in other areas of the world.