First protective legislation for the Galapagos was enacted in 1934; however, it was not until the late 1950´s that positive action was taken to reverse the damage being done to the native flora and fauna in the isles. During the 1950´s both the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and UNESCO, in cooperation with the government of Ecuador, sent expeditions to study the state of the Islands and it´s conservation situation. Following these studies, Ecuador declared 97.5% of the Islands a national park in 1959, one hundred years after the publication of Charles Darwin´s The Origin of Species.
On March 18, 1999, the Galapagos Marine Reserve was created, covering an area of about 133,000 sq km, making it the second largest marine reserve in the world next to Australia´s Great Barrier Reef. The Galapagos and its surrounding waters have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and a biosphere reserve since 1978; however, in July 2010 the World Heritage Committee dropped the Galapagos from its list of precious sites endangered by environmental threats or overuse.
Today, the primary organizations that handle Galapagos conservation initiatives in the islands are the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation. The CDF´s core responsibility is to conduct research and provide the research findings to the Ecuadorian government for effective management of the Galapagos, whose efforts began in 1964 with the construction of the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island. In 2002, the station was awarded the International Cosmos Award, which is given for outstanding research work and/or achievement which promote the philosophy, “The Harmonious Coexistence between Nature and Mankind.”
The Galapagos National Park has also implemented strict rules and regulations concerning tourist behavior within the Galapagos in order to minimize the effect of tourism on the wildlife and nature of the Islands.
The Galapagos Isles