Galá­pa­gos Is­lands, Ecuador

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - News Feature -

Pop­u­la­tion in 1970: 3,500 Pop­u­la­tion to­day: 25,000 Pro­jected pop­u­la­tion in 2030: 50,000

A na­tional park makes up about 97 per cent of the Galá­pa­gos Is­lands land area, of­fer­ing pro­tec­tion to the in­cred­i­ble plant and an­i­mal species that live there. But wildlife has had to adapt to an in­creas­ing hu­man pres­ence ( below), as the re­main­ing 3 per cent of land area is home to the is­lands’ hu­man pop­u­la­tion, which has grown rapidly since tourism first came to the ar­chi­pel­ago in the 1970s. With an econ­omy grow­ing at 20 per cent an­nu­ally, more and more peo­ple want to move to the Galá­pa­gos, putting ex­tra pres­sure on ecosys­tems.

Pop­u­la­tion is a fac­tor in many en­vi­ron­men­tal crises. There are too many hu­mans on the planet for us to sus­tain our­selves long-term at cur­rent con­sump­tion lev­els. But fix­ing that doesn’t mean im­pos­ing dra­co­nian one-child poli­cies, or wait­ing un­til war, pan­demic or famine ad­just the scales. We can re­bal­ance the cal­cu­lus with poli­cies that lib­er­ate women and re­duce eco­nomic inequal­ity. With the al­ter­na­tive be­ing a Malthu­sian catas­tro­phe, what have we got to lose?


Look out for Pop­u­la­tion with Chris Pack­ham, part of the BBC’s ‘Our Planet Mat­ters’ sea­son. O Global Foot­print Net­work: foot­print­net­

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