Ecuador’s historic debt-for-nature swap is a major milestone for conservation in Galapagos and the world

On Tuesday, May 9, the Ecuadorian government announced another historic milestone for the conservation of the Galapagos Islands with the largest debt-for-nature swap ever to be done to date. The deal represents a huge step towards securing the protection of the unique fauna and flora that inhabit these beautiful islands, and is a game-changer for the local Galapagos community, who depend on this natural treasure for their livelihoods.

"We congratulate the government of Ecuador on milestone for the benefit of the Archipelago, Ecuador, and conservation globally," comments Rakan Zahawi, Executive Director of the CDF.

The Galapagos and Hermandad marine reserves are a true refuge for critically endangered migratory species, such as the scalloped hammerhead shark. However, these migratory species breed in waters and coasts of other nations, which requires the creation of an international marine corridor that spans the entire Eastern Tropical Pacific to ensure their effective protection for future generations.

"The momentum created through today's historic debt-for-nature swap is an opportunity to accelerate our research and conservation efforts towards the creation of a marine corridor," adds Rakan. "This announcement also reminds us that the 30x30 targets are within our reach if we focus all efforts for the benefit of nature and humanity."

The Charles Darwin Foundation, which currently has over 25 terrestrial and marine scientific projects to support governmental decisions on the management of the Galapagos Islands, considers this decision a significant achievement and incentive to continue its mission to conserve the Galapagos Islands and its unique species in the world.

Hammerhead shark school. Photo: Jordi Chias
Hammerhead shark school. Photo: Jordi Chias

Rakan further notes: "this deal, which will strengthen management of the Galapagos and Hermandad marine reserves, is a major step towards protecting key migratory species such as the scalloped hammerhead shark, a critically endangered species. However, it is essential to take advantage of this unique opportunity to further accelerate our impactful research and conservation efforts towards the creation of a marine corridor throughout the entire Eastern Tropical Pacific."

Since 1959, the Charles Darwin Foundation has worked closely with the Galapagos National Park Directorate to protect the natural resources of the islands and share scientific results for the conservation of this living laboratory. Its mission is to provide knowledge and assistance through scientific research and complementary action to ensure the conservation of the environment and biodiversity in the Galapagos Archipelago.


The mission of the Charles Darwin Foundation and its Research Station is to tackle the greatest threats and challenges to Galapagos through scientific research and conservation action, in order to safeguard one of the world’s most important natural treasures.

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