Albatross Foundation USA
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The Albatross Foundation USA (Fundación Ecológica Albatros) is a non-profit, community-based organization, initiated and led by residents of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno in San Cristóbal Island, the administrative capital of the Galápagos Islands, Province of the Republic of Ecuador.
The Foundation is committed to the protection of the Galapagos land and marine environments and the diversity of the islands’ ecosystems, through educating the youth of the Galapagos with the enthusiasm, commitment and scientific knowledge that they will need to play a constructive role in the future of the Islands.
The Albatross Foundation (most often presented as Fundacion Ecologica Albatros) was founded in 1993 by a group of residents on San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos, concerned that the young people of the islands were not being educated to play a constructive role in their future. It was recognized as a non-profit Foundation (Registry No.210) on June 14, 1993. Ecuador, the nation of the islands, is a small and poor country, which often faces major problems such as flooding and landslides as well as the challenges all developing countries of the South face.
However, the Galapagos are a United Nations World Heritage Site and the international scientific community values the islands as a unique "living laboratory of evolution" and is keen to maintain their condition and valuable biodiversity. This does put some strain on the residents of the Galapagos. The Galapagos have been a tourism destination since the late 1960s, and have provided a better living for Ecuadorians than the mainland. Many have been attracted there by the quality of life as well as the standard of living, and a minority make a good living from tourism. The majority of the residents, as distinct from those who work there, make their living from fishing and agriculture, with some commerce and local services. The better-paid work on the islands is often taken by foreigners, as scientists, managers and in the tourism industry.
Galapagos Income Sources
Tourism 80% Fishing 6% Cattle raising 5% Agriculture 2% Crafts 3% Trade 4%
The founders of the Albatross Foundation were equally concerned for the wildlife, the natural environment and the human inhabitants, and felt that their young people had to be given a stake in the future of the islands if the resident communities were to play a constructive rather than a destructive role. The goal of the Foundation was and remains to enable the young people to receive an education that supplements that available from the State in terms of environmental, biological and scientific subjects. The Foundation has its base in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, provincial capital of the Galapagos and the second largest community on the islands, the largest being Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island which is the center of the tourism industry. It has a population of about 9000 including 3500 families (figures from 1998, Primacies de Galapagos 2000).
Charity and projects
The Albatross Foundation was unfunded until 2000. Prior to this, the organization was formally constituted and obtained non-profit status from the Ecuadorian and US governments. Its activities were mainly concerned with raising their profile in the islands and in Ecuador and in making contacts with prospective donors, mainly in the United States. During this period they established relationships with key decision-makers in the island community, including the Asociación de Guías de Galápagos (Association of Galapagos Guides) which represents professional naturalist guides on the islands, INEFAN, the branch of government responsible for the islands, and the Galapagos National Park. They gained a certain amount of favorable media coverage in Ecuador, representing environmental issues from a concerned residents' viewpoint.
In 1992, Club Albatros, the Foundation's informal predecessor, was involved in a Government campaign to distribute educational materials about HIV/Aids and Cholera to the local population. In 1994 the Foundation developed and presented a project named "Emergency Patrol for The Marine Reserve" to The National Park Galapagos which was delayed due to financed problems within such entity.
In 1994, one of the officers of the Albatross Foundation was a named ICC Coordinator for the Galapagos in the "International Coastal Cleanup" run by The Ocean Conservancy (formally known as The Center for Marine Conservation) in Washington DC. This involved recruiting young people to gather trash from the beaches and other coastal areas of Galapagos inhabited islands and arranging for its safe disposal, carrying out local education on the project, and campaigning for a more conservationist attitude as a result of this work. Nowadays,[timeframe?] the Foundation carries on with this activity in the entire Archipelago every year with the collaboration of local entities and schools. The Foundation also played a helpful role during the Isabela Island Forest Fire (1994) and the Tanker Jessica oil spill. The foundation has actively donated educational materials such as books, computers & lab materials and more to several public schools in the islands. During the 1990s, the officers of the Fundación Albatros developed a plan for an Educational Center on the island of San Cristóbal. The Center will comprise ten small classrooms, a fully equipped library, a computer laboratory, a Marine Life Museum and administration services.
Currently the foundation runs a pilot program in San Cristobal Island in partnership with the Ecuadorian Navy's educational facility called Lyceum Galapagos. The program focuses in teaching English to the local children of the islands with an ecological approach. Educational marine ecology programs are run every years in partnership with the University of Arizona in the United States. The foundation also recruits volunteers from all over the world to assist in the development of its programs in exchange of a first-hand experience and recognition on their respective field. The volunteer basis ranges from Highschool/ College Students to Professionals in different fields.
The following names have contributed or still contribute with the Albatross Foundation, not just with ideas, but financing these great[unbalanced opinion?] ideas to make them possible: Idea Wild Foundation, Kohlberg Foundation, PADI Foundation, PADI Project A.W.A.R.E., The Ocean Conservancy, MW Productions, Inc., Sierra Club, National Science Foundation, International Community Foundation, Willamette University, University of Arizona, Liceo Naval Galapagos and Armada Nacional del Ecuador.
- Primacies de Galapagos (2000), Puerto Ayora.