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Prince Charles to Build Controversial Eco-Homes on the Galapagos Islands

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Prince Charles is planning to help with the construction of 1,000 eco-friendly homes on the Galapagos Islands, but this isn’t a happy occasion for all, especially conservationists.

Leading conservationists are concerned that the construction could seriously harm one of the most precious eco-systems. For those of you who don’t know, these islands are the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. The islands were discovered in the 16th century and became famous after studied by Darwin.

Next month Prince Charles’ organization, The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, will set up an office on one of the islands 600 miles off Ecuador to work with the people of Puerto Ayora “to create a ‘harmonious’ residential development that is ‘sympathetic’ to the local environment.”

The eco-construction will only take up 3 percent of the total land. However, the local government will construct more than 1,000 homes at El Mirador, doubling the population of Puerto Ayora. The Prince of Wales will help guide officials in building more homes and creating more tourism accommodation, all while maintaining the eco-system.

The homes will include solar panels, large porches to cool air and dispense with the need for air-conditioning, cisterns to collect rain for re-use and green sewage systems.

In March 2009, Prince Charles visited the islands and said, “There is a huge challenge – how do you manage tourism and the local economy and more people who want to come and live here and work here? Yet [there is] the absolutely crucial importance of preserving the biodiversity because it is so unique. This is the great dilemma, isn’t it, that confronts all of us all round the world, not just here?”

Conservations have expressed worry over too many tourists visiting the islands and founded the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 preventing construction and pollution destroying the islands’ beauty.

“Given the decision of the Galapagos government to approve development, the Prince’s Foundation is looking forward to showing that people and nature can co-exist in a harmonious balance,” Hank Dittmar, the foundation’s chief executive, said. “If we’re to avoid damage to the incredibly important environment and ecosystems of the Galapagos, we need to plan growth so as it makes the place more sustainable into the future – not less.”

The Galapagos Islands are made up of 13 main islands and a few smaller ones. Not only famous for Darwin, they are known worldwide for the diverse flora and fauna such as flamingos and of course the famous giant tortoises. You may have heard of the local “celeb” turtle, Lonesome George, who is about 100 years old and the last of his Pinta island species.

Toni Dalton from the Galapagos Conservation Trust did warn the construction could be a “real threat,” but she is “delighted” Prince Charles and his foundation is helping.

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