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Los Roques archipelago national park.
Decreed as a park in 1972 as a tribute to the one hundred years of the creation of the first national park in the world, the Yellowstone national park. The Los Roques archipelago with its bio diversity and colorful landscapes had been almost untouched, the reason its distance from the coast which protected it from the industrial discharge, cities, sea transport as well as the massive inflow of visitors. The archipelago was visited in pre Columbian times (almost 1000 years) and later in the 17th century, as a matter of fact there were industrial activity such as salt mining, timber and tannin from mangrove, limestone from coral and guano, bird droppings used as fertilizer. Almost a century after the cease of these activities, only the expert eyes can identify the traces left by those customs.
Fishing activity has lasted throughout time and although its relevance has changed greatly, it has always been important food for small settlements and slums. It is from 1950 with the arrival of ice for and motor boat engines that fishing becomes the predominant economic and social activity. However it has always been basically a craft activity and among the most abundant species are lobster, Botuto and others.
Towards the late 80´s and early 90's a great change took place which gave way to the archipelago we know today: tourism. A few adventurers and well off Venezuelans were the first ones to try the excellence of the Los Roques environment for relaxation and pleasure. Los Roques receives approximately 80,000 visitors per year.
The first investigations in the archipelago.
The first steps towards the preservation of the archipelago were taken by scientists who on numerous investigation campaigns emphasized the cultural and bio diverse richness present in the set of keys.
Fernando Cervigon one of the pioneers in the study of Venezuelan marine fauna, tells in his book Las Dependencias Federales about these expeditions.
He mentions that in the 16th century the exiting cartography gave origin to the name, which went from "La Roca" to "Los Roques". He also mentions the participation of naturalists, from the botanic Adolfo Ernst in 1871 up to the visits done by the La Salle society of natural sciences which in the 50´s carried out the first multidisciplinary approximation to the richness in biodiversity in this landscape. (ictiofauna, herpetofauna, crustaceous, and flora).
In 1963 the Los Roques scientific foundation established its laboratories and facilities in Dos Mosquises and together with the collaboration of the University of Venezuela (UCV) and Simon Bolivar including the American universities, Harvard and Miami have carried out the most recent works on archaeology, fish, turtles, corals, fishing and oceanography.
"Los Roques a protected natural paradise"
The need to preserve the environment and its biodiversity is a relatively new feeling. Towards the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th there was significant progress in trying to classify living beings and classical naturalists emerged. In their trips around the world, these naturalists picked and classified plants and animals, which allowed them to make for the first time a vision of the range of the exiting bio diversity. Among the most outstanding are Linneo, Darwin, Wallace, Bates and Mutis. At the same time these discoveries were made, the first scientific associations came into existence that were aware of the capacity of industry to alter the environment and place the recently discovered species in danger. For the first time there was the possibility that future generations would not know a living world as that discovered by scientists. The London Zoological Society one of the pioneer societies was born in England in 1826. A few years later the London Zoo was created in order to keep living collections which represented animal bio diversity. Soon it became obvious that what was important was not to keep species but to maintain complete ecosystems that would warrant the survival of these species. In 1872 the Yellowstone national park was created in the United States. The need to preserve nature involved at the beginning small groups of scientists and people who were sensitive to what was beginning to happen, until in 1886 the Audubon Society was founded becoming the first association whose primary goal is the preservation of nature. Afterwards many similar associations sprang up all over the world such as Sierra Club, UICN, WWF among others which have managed to have political clout in national as well as international decisions.
In Venezuela the movement for the creation of national parks as a means for preservation of representative ecosystems of flora and fauna of the country was started in 1937. The first one was the Henri Pittier park created as a tribute to the Swiss naturalist. This was followed by the Sierra Nevada in 1952; Avila and Guatopo in 1958. Mainly focused on the conservation of hydrographic basins and the quality of water for cities. Currently Venezuela has a total of 43 national parks and 40 natural monuments which make up 16% of the country's total land surface. These parks are managed by the National Parks Institute (Inparques), which depends on the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources.