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Cablegate: Congressional Delegation Reviews Climate Change And

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #0543 1712232
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 192232Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9039
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7616
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3937
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3077
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN LIMA 2663
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3635

UNCLAS QUITO 000543

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ECON SOCI EC
SUBJECT: CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION REVIEWS CLIMATE CHANGE AND
CONSERVATION IN GALAPAGOS

1. (U) Summary: A delegation from the House of Representatives
Committee on Science and Technology led by Brian Baird (D-WA)
visited the Galapagos Islands from June 13-16, 2008. The group met
with scientists and officials to learn more about global climate
change and invasive species on the Islands. End summary.

2. (U) Other Representatives included Darlene Hooley (D-OR), Ben
Chandler (D-KY), Robert Inglis (R-SC), and Frank Lucas (R-OK). The
group met with scientists from the University of Washington
conducting climate change research, officials from the Galapagos
National Park (GNP), the mayor of Santa Cruz Island (largest
population center), scientists from the Charles Darwin Research
Station, and representatives from five non-governmental
organizations working in the islands. They also presented a grant
from USAID to a local women's cooperative bakery.

DOCUMENTING EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
-------------------------------------

3. (U) Codel Baird accompanied a scientific team to Floreana Island
to witness the sampling of soil sediments that will be used to map
historical climate change over the last 5,000 to 12,000 years. The
project is unique because existing historic climate data in the
equatorial Pacific are from single locations, or cover only short,
discontinuous periods. The project is led by Dr. Julian Sachs,
Professor of Chemical Oceanography from the University of
Washington, and Dr. Gabrielle Rocap, Professor of Biological
Oceanography.

4. (U) Floreana Island is one of only two locations in the Galapagos
where the soil samples are located. As part of the study, the team
will also collect samples from equatorial locations in Palau and
Kiribati. Officials from the Galapagos National Park (GNP)
accompanied the group to Floreana, and while they had approved
Sachs's research program, they commented to the Codel that after
witnessing the demonstration they had a much greater understanding
of how El Nino effects could be measured through the sediment
samples and how these may give clues to future weather patterns.

COMBATING INVASIVE SPECIES IN GALAPAGOS
---------------------------------------

5. (U) In separate meetings with GNP Acting Director Sixto Naranjo,
Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Research Station Graham
Watkins, and their staffs, the Codel learned about ongoing efforts
to protect the islands' native and endemic species from invasive
species such as goats, cats, fruit flies, and blackberry bushes,
among others. They also discussed the Galapagos' status as a UNESCO
endangered world patrimony, problems with island governance and
migration control, illegal fishing, and tourism development. The
group toured the giant tortoise restoration program, and also
learned from park naturalists about how drastic changes in weather
conditions (such as the El Nino rains and shift in ocean temperature
in 1997-8) have had severe consequences for the Galapagos'
endangered wildlife.

6. (U) All representatives expressed interest and concern about the
effects of climate change in Galapagos, and in particular, Mr. Baird
appeared eager to show U.S. support for the continued study of
climate change and for protecting unique species in Galapagos.

7. (SBU) Representative Baird and Representative Chandler, who
serves on the House Appropriations committee, suggested that they
will consider requesting an earmark of up to $3,000,000 for
conservation in the Galapagos and for scientific conferences in 2009
celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, the
150th anniversary of the publication of "On the Origin of Species,"
and the 50th anniversary of Galapagos National Park and the Charles
Darwin Research Station.

8. (U) Traveling party has cleared this message.

JEWELL

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