Engaging Galapagos

Ecotourism, volcanoes and current confluence were topics discussed in a fascinating talk to Geography students by Ian Dunn, Chief Executive of the Galapagos Conservation Trust on campus in April. Ian’s career covers 15 years working overseas and another 15 years working in the UK and has involved both human and physical geography. The talk focussed largely on tourism on the Galapagos Islands which is pertinent to subjects covered as part of the A level course. He outlined the physical geography of the Islands which are on a volcano hotspot explaining how new islands in the group are made and move over a period of about a million years and how the marine wildlife changes in cycles due to the islands’ situation in a location with extraordinary confluence of currents.

He then went on to discuss the difference between “ecotourism” ( a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine and relatively undisturbed natural areas, intended as a low-impact and often on a small scale) and “sustainable tourism” (tourism with care for the environment and for the locals’ well-being, promoting equality and democracy, supporting education and generating funds for conservation).  Ian explained that no cap had been placed on the number of visitors to the Galapagos Islands and in 2014 the numbers reached over 200,000 which is way beyond the carrying capacity of the islands, and therefore unsustainable.

Ian Dunn’s now annual talk is part of building the students understanding outside of the classroom with real life case students relevant to their exams.  He also gave a talk to A level Biology students about the biological make-up of the islands. Find out more about studying Geography and Biology at Alton College here