We are the Las Iguanas group, one of the two sections of MIT's Mission 2008: Solving Complex Problems. At the beginning of the Fall term, we, a group of 45 freshmen, were given a task: to devise a strategy to ensure the preservation of the Galapagos Islands, a group of islands lying on the equator in the Pacific Ocean, west of and under the ownership of the country of Ecuador.
It was immediately clear to us that this would be no easy task. Though the ecosystems within the Galapagos are still some of the most diverse in the world, and despite multiple efforts by the Ecuadorian government, the environment is under an intense amount of stress. Non-indigenous species have been accidentally introduced, and in some places run rampant over native species. Human populations continue to increase. Tourism, while generating enormous revenue for the islands, is taking its toll on the stability of the equilibrium between human and natural habitats.
To give us direction in our search for a solution, we were given three objectives to follow. They are as follows:
1) To develop a new preservation strategy for the Galapagos that builds on the current management plan for the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve by designating the two as a "World Scientific Preserve" that would be managed by an international commission and funded by a multinational trust.
2) To design and deploy a network of environmental sensors to support a comprehensive program of ecosystem monitoring on the island and surrounding waters.
3) To design an idealized "village" for permanent residents and visitors that would ensure the lowest possible human impact on island ecosystems.
Through this website, we present to you our product: a three-part solution that will guarantee successful preservation of the Galapagos' natural resources, while at the same time expanding the ecological knowledge base and available data and minimizing the effect on current human habitation.
To navigate, the links in the horizontal bar above will let you access the objective sections, and give you links to documents in the vertical bar on the left.