Environmental Crisis and the Production of Alternatives: Conservation Practice(s) in the Galapagos Islands

  • Wendy WolfordEmail author
  • Flora Lu
  • Gabriela Valdivia
Part of the Social and Ecological Interactions in the Galapagos Islands book series (SESGI, volume 1)


Recent discussions over conservation in the Galapagos Islands indicate a search for the right way to do conservation policy. When it is treated as a narrowly environmental issue, there are relatively clear dictates as to the organization of priorities and targets. As a social issue, however, conservation is not just “done”; it is experienced, negotiated, and contested such that policies intended to address the same issues inhabit and generate quite different spaces on the islands. In this chapter, we suggest that conservation in the Galapagos has changed considerably over the past three decades; this has happened less because of changing ecological conditions or scientific understandings and more because regular moments of crisis have led to ongoing efforts to reconcile different visions of human/environmental dynamics. As a result of attempts to reconcile conservation and society, conservation approaches have multiplied. There is now not just one approach to conservation on the islands but several, and together they constitute an uneven patchwork of overlapping and competing or conflicting approaches. Based upon data collection encompassing four field seasons and over 100 interviews with key informants of the archipelago, from governmental representatives and conservationists to farmers, fishermen, and other residents, we illustrate this multiplicity of conservation approaches and develop a framework for understanding environmental crises as generative spaces and moments in which new approaches, alliances, and attitudes are formed.


Invasive Species Ecological Footprint Conservation Practice Conservation Policy Environmental Crisis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors have been working together in the Galapagos Islands since 2007 and would like to thank Steve Walsh and Carlos Mena, codirectors of the Carolina Institute for the Study of the Galapagos, for their dedication to the islands and support of the authors’ research. The authors would also like to thank Patricia Polo and Elizabeth Hennessy for research support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Development SociologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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