Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment Invites Israeli Experts to Assist in Island Preservation
A Ben Gurion University delegation from the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR) recently toured the Galapagos Islands in April. The delegation, led by Professor Ariel Novoplansky, signed a cooperation agreement with the Directorate of the National Park to promote the conservation of the endangered biological diversity of the islands.
The Israeli delegation had been invited by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment and the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park. During their visit, the group participated in work meetings and field excursions with managers, rangers, policy-makers, farmers and conservation experts.
The Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador and lie on the Equator, about 1,000 kilometers off the west coast of South America. Since Ecuador annexed the Galapagos 180 years ago and only started to settle it less than a hundred years ago, the islands have been undergoing ecological changes. In spite of over 50 years of dedicated management and conservation of most of the area and its surrounding waters by the Galapagos National Park authority, Ecuador is looking to urgently change its conservation policies.
“Even with the excellent management and meticulous policing of ecotourism, a full-blown ecological disaster is unfolding before our eyes, inflicted by the devastating effects of invasive species,” says Novoplansky.
The Israeli delegation will assist the Ecuadorians in figuring out the best ways to minimize the detrimental effects of invasive species to the biodiversity, natural habitats and agricultural areas of the archipelago. In addition, the joint Ecuadorian-Israeli teams, will pursue novel nature management schemes that will help rehabilitate natural ecosystems by developing agricultural methodologies and water technologies, which will increase local agricultural production, and reduce the dependency of the islands on the imports of fresh produce from the mainland.
In addition to Novoplansky, the delegation to the Galapagos included professors and environmental experts from the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Hebrew University of Jerusalem.