Galapagos Initiative in Isabela Island

We were invited by the Municipality of Isabela to come to the village of Puerto Villamil on the Island of Isabela. We joined the World Wildllife Fund (WWF) to visit the island, meet the mayor, and discuss ways to assist in finding comprehensive solutions to the problems of the human population.

Isla Isabela is the largest Island in terms of landmass and one of the youngest, made up of five volcanoes, some of which are still active. Volcan Negro erupted in 2005, so the land is still being created. Isabela's one settlement, Puerto Villamil has 2000 residents and is the third smallest town in the archipelago. There is no sewage system or water treatment center for the town, which means that their sewage is either leaking into their tap water or into the bay. Many people in town have already suffered serious infections from the water. The expansion of the town that occurred in the last four to five years is on lava fields only hospitable to cacti and is effectively desert.

The economy in Puerto Ayora is completely supported by tourism. To address the human-made environmental issues on Isabela, the WWF is undertaking a solid waste and recycling program, which it has already implemented successfully in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. A WWF team is also working with the Puetro Villamil municipality on restructuring the way the government runs and on a long-term tourism and development strategy. With the WWF team, we met with the mayor and with the head of the tourism and environment departments in Isabela’s Municipality about developing codes and master plans to healthily guide Puerto Villamil's growth.