UN, Ecuador officials meet on danger to Galapagos, cradle of evolution

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The threat is growing to the cradle of evolution. Crucial talks take place today over the increasingly precarious future of the Galapagos Islands, whose unique wildlife inspired Charles Darwin's revolutionary theory.

High-ranking United Nations officials will be meet ministers from the government of Ecuador, which owns the volcanic islands 600 miles off its Pacific coast, to discuss how to protect them from the increasing threats posed by immigration, mass tourism, development, overfishing and the invasion of alien species.

The archipelago was the first location in the world to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the UN's cultural body -- 30 years ago -- and on the agenda for today's meeting in Quito, the Ecuadorian capital, will be the question of whether it should be placed on the official list of World Heritage Sites in danger.

Such a listing would be an unmistakable warning signal to the international community that one of the world's most cherished ecosystems -- and historical landmarks -- was in deep trouble.

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