Thursday, June 21, 2012

Starting Group Projects
June 18th

            Today we divided up into groups for our final project in order to start learning more about our topics. Although there were some logistical problems with guest speakers, the day still flowed nicely. I know that my group certainly learned a lot! My group is focusing on Biodiversity and we started the day talking to a local fisherman. Marco Escarbay represents the four fishing cooperatives in the Galapagos. He was very friendly and helpful. We learned a whole lot of things from a new perspective we never would have expected. For example, we found out that the great goat eradication project credited for removing this invasive species from the islands was not as great as people say it was. In fact, not all of the goats were successfully removed. In addition, the removal process also hurt local species that should have been conserved. This was also the first time that we heard that eradication of invasive species may actually be bad for the local species that have already adapted to the newcomers. Our talk with Mr. Escarbay helped open our minds to the disconnect between the Ecuadorian government and the realities faced on the islands.
            In the afternoon, we tried to talk with more Galapagenos to get as many perspectives on biodiversity as we could. We decided it would be more efficient if we split up into two groups.  Kate and Steph Van Den Berg targeted tourism and had some enlightening talks with local tour guides. Connor, Steph Peng and I decided to approach the local government. Unfortunately, we were not as lucky as our other group members. When we first entered the small government offices that were hidden above the post office, we were politely turned away because everyone was on their lunch break. When we returned after lunch there was still no one to talk to and we were instructed to take a taxi to the more central government buildings on the island to set up an interview with the governor. No one at this small office was willing to talk to us. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to do this since we are leaving the island so soon.
            After this failed attempt, the three of us tried to speak with the Ministerio de Inclusión Económico y Social (MIES). Although they do not focus on environmental issues, we thought they might have some thoughts about how development may affect biodiversity on the islands. The woman who greeted us said that the person we wanted to talk to was out of the office but would be back in fifteen minutes. We waited an hour before we had to leave. She never showed up.
            Even though we did not get to talk with anyone from the government or MIES, we came away from the day with a lot of new information and new questions. We decided to focus on the impact tourism has on biodiversity. This felt fitting since we are tourists ourselves and because tourism is such an important part of the Galapagos. We are excited to learn more about this topic!

Here is a link to the website for MIES.
We did not actually know anything about it when we walked in. We just passed it and thought it was worth a try!

No comments:

Post a Comment