The history of man’s detrimental effects on the islands extends back to the 1600s when buccaneers introduced the first goats and killed tortoises for food. Once settlers came to the islands they brought with them a full range of domestic animals, some of which went wild and started feral population. Dogs, cats, pigs, goats, rats, the little fire ant, guava plants, and the chinchona (quinine) tree.
Introduced plants have spread, particularly in the moist highlands, and compete with native vegetation. Several species are considered to be serious threats to native vegetation.
The social and environmental pressures made by the fast growing population of the Galapagos’s inhabited areas cause worry to the national and international communities. Between 1982 and 1990 the population growth rate in Galapagos reached 6% mostly due to immigration from the Ecuadorian mainland. During 1996 a step forward in this area was the introduction of an amendment to the Constitution of Ecuador which states that Galapagos will have a special law. Hence, it is possible to restrict indiscriminate immigration, commerce and property rights in Galapagos.
Two organizations work together for the conservation of the islands, the Galapagos National Park (GNP), that tries to keep the natural resources of the Islands in the best state of conservation possible and the Charles Darwin Research Station, which conducts and facilitates research in the Galapagos Islands