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Important risks to the preservation of the national park of Los Roques.

At present it is considered that the park is in good state of preservation. Its distance form the coast (166 kilometers), the reduced communities that historically have occupied it, the development of industries at a small scale and the creation of the national park in 1972 has allowed the archipelago to be in conditions quite similar to those experienced by early settlers. However, changes which have recently taken place in the last two decades have made it clear the existence of a series of situations that may endanger the preservation of biodiversity and the beauty of this natural enclave.
The most important risk is related to the growth of tourist activity. In little less than a decade the park has seen a few thousand visitors with need for basic services to almost 80 thousand visitors per year and the type of more sophisticated and demanding tourism. This growth in tourism has generated new jobs and has brought with it an increase of steady population: from 400 inhabitants in the early 80´s In Gran Roque, it has gone to one thousand in the year 2000. Population growth and the increase of visitors have produced a greater demand for basic services (water, electricity and removal of solid waste and water treatment) with the corresponding environmental impact. Navigation within the park has increased as well as the pressure of visitors on keys and beaches.
Up to now there is no evidence that population growth has caused irreversible impact, but it is foreseeable that they may occur if tourist activity continues to grow at the same rate it has over the years. The unique authority together with the help of the Spanish government has carried out a study of tourist load capacity in order to establish the limits of this growth and the most important risks it brings.
Population growth has also produced a problem of space in Gran Roque. At present the area allocated for housing, according to the ordaining plan, has been almost used up. The purchasing of homes for guest houses and other tourist activities has put aside the population to the inner most part of the town with over crowding in some areas of Gran Roque. At the same time the demand for labor for tourist services has attracted towards Gran Roque workers from allover the country. This situation produces great pressure from the community to urbanize areas which at present are restricted. If at any time the area that can be allocated for urban growth is increased, this decision should be accompanied with a regulation for the settlement of new inhabitants; if is not so, in a very short time Gran Roque will lose its present aspect and all its surface will become built up.

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