Ever since a young biologist called Charles Darwin sailed into the Galapagos Islands in 1835 and discovered some of the world's most unique flora, fauna and sea life, the region has been world renowned. The United Nations made the islands and surrounding marine park a World Heritage site, but earlier this year the site was also placed on a 'Danger List.'
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been working since 2004 on a five-year project to help protect the islands' 70,000 square mile marine reserve, the second largest in the world. Effectively, the problem is one familiar in many parts of the globe?a clash between an expanding human presence and a fragile ecosystem.
The agency project is studying pollution levels and helping educate local communities, including fishermen, on the importance of environmental conservation and encouraging them to improve their standard of living by starting new ventures, such as eco-tourism.
Photos courtesy of JICA