Milestone Towards a Sustainable Galapagos Achieved as Charles Darwin’s Bicentennial Approaches
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Last update: 4:35 p.m. EST Dec. 15, 2008 (Go To Source) WSJ-Marketwatch
WASHINGTON, Dec 15, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The first fuel-handling facility in the Galapagos Islands–a region of great biodiversity and evolutionary importance–was given official environmental certification today, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced. The facility underwent extreme renovations in order to meet certification standards, which are part of a 10-year plan developed by WWF and Toyota, in conjunction with the Ecuadorian Government, to transform high pollution energy systems currently in use in the Galapagos to more sustainable and renewable energy sources. It is one of only a few facilities in Latin America to hold this certification. “This achievement demonstrates the enormous impact public, private and conservation entities can have when they join forces for a common goal,” said Lauren Spurrier, WWF’s Galapagos managing director. “The completion of this project and its certification are a milestone in our effort to protect one of the world’s most precious and historically significant eco-regions and preserve the livelihoods of the many people who depend on these islands for their survival.” This accomplishment is realized less than two months before the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, a scientist well known for his species and evolution work in the Galapagos Islands. The islands have seen dramatic changes since Darwin’s exploration, with a huge growth in population and an expanding tourism industry.
Safe, environmentally sound handling of fuel supplies has been a major challenge brought about by this growth. After a tanker spill released 240,000 gallons of fuel into the waters surrounding the islands in 2001, WWF and PetroEcuador, the state-owned oil company, identified fuel transportation and storage as a major environmental concern that needed to be immediately addressed. WWF and Toyota worked together to develop a technical assessment and design for renovations to the primary facility in Baltra, which included, among other items, replacing the old, leaking tanks and installing a state-of-the art computer system to monitor tank levels and facility operations. PetroEcuador allocated funds for implementation and construction was completed in December of 2004 in line with the highest environmental standards. In 2008, a final investment of $1 million refined the facilities’ environmental management system allowing it to attain official certification. Today the facility was awarded official ISO 14001 certification by the Bureau Veritas Certification, a third-party certification body, verifying that the facility is environmentally sound. “The Galapagos now has one of the safest and most modern fuel depots in Latin America,” said Bill Reinert, national manager for advanced technologies at Toyota Motor Sales. “WWF’s conservation expertise and Toyota’s engineering prowess are the perfect combination for real transformation in the Galapagos and we look forward to continuing to work with the Ecuadorian Government to reform the islands’ energy systems and guide the region to a more sustainable future.” “Ensuring development is sustainable and environmentally sound is essential to protecting the places we treasure in the Galapagos. We hope this effort can serve as an example to the rest of the world,” said Commander Brummel Vasquez, vice-president of environment for PetroEcuador. Notes to Editors: — Galapagos photos and b-roll are available upon request. Experts on the Galapagos eco-region are available for interviews for Darwin bicentennial stories. — In November 2007, the President of Ecuador gave management rights over PetroEcuador to the Ecuadorian Navy. — The growing Galapagos tourism industry and influx of new residents have introduced a hazardous waste management problem to the Islands, which is putting a strain on their delicate ecosystems. WWF is working with local tour operators, local conservation groups and the Ecuadorian Government to come up with real solutions to this growing problem. For more information about this and the 10-year plan to reform the energy systems of the Galapagos, “The Energy Blueprint,” visit http://www.worldwildlife.org/Galapagos. ABOUT WORLD WILDLIFE FUND WWF is the world’s largest conservation organization, working in 100 countries for nearly half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, stop the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit http://www.worldwildlife.org to learn more. SOURCE: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) WWF Erika Viltz, 202-778-9542 firstname.lastname@example.org