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Galapagos bans fireworks to save wildlife

December 29, 2018

Ecuador has banned most fireworks in the archipelago, just days before New Year's celebrations. Conservationists say the explosions cause damage to the islands' wildlife. Germans, too, have been urged to limit fireworks.

A marine iguana on Galapagos Islands
Image: imago/Westend61

Ecuador's government has banned the use and sale of most fireworks on the Galapagos Islands to protect the archipelago's unique fauna.

The ban comes just days before New Year's celebrations that traditionally see fireworks set off across Latin America and the rest of the world. Fireworks that produce light but no noise have been exempted from the ban.

Conservationists have said the sounds of explosions cause elevated heart rates, nervous stress and anxiety among animals on the islands, which are home to several endemic species including iguanas and tortoises.

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Read more: Tourism: Boon or threat for the Galapagos?

'Gift for Ecuador and the world'

The new rule bars the entry, sale and distribution of any fireworks that cause noise on the archipelago's 13 main islands and at least 17 islets that lie about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) off the coast of Ecuador.

"This is a gift for Ecuador and the world," Lorena Tapia, the president of the Government Council of Galapagos, wrote on Twitter.

The campaign to limit the use of fireworks on the Galapagos Islands was launched in 2017. Earlier this year, single-use plastics were also banned on the archipelago.

Germans urged to limit fireworks

Meanwhile, in Germany, the Environment Agency has urged people to refrain from private fireworks on New Year's Eve in order to help prevent a drastic increase in fine dust pollution.

"If you use fewer fireworks on New Year's Eve — or do without them altogether — you can help to reduce fine dust pollution," the agency's head, Maria Krautzberger, told newspaper Rheinische Post. "It's also better for health and results in less waste on the streets and in the environment."

The agency estimates that around 4,500 tons of fine dust are blown into the air all over Germany on New Year's Eve, with levels on January 1 higher than at any other time during the year.

"This corresponds to about 15.5 percent of the amount of particulate matter emitted by road traffic each year," Krautzberger said, referring to the miniscule pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health.

Fireworks ban threatens Chinese tradition

ap/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa)

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