Protecting the highlands of the larger Galapagos Islands is crucial for the long-term health of tortoise populations. (Photo © Greg Shenkler)

Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation

Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation

Protecting the highlands of the larger Galapagos Islands is crucial for the long-term health of tortoise populations. (Photo © Greg Shenkler)

Conserving Wildlife and Ecosystems

Park rangers return giant tortoises to Pinta in 2012.

The challenge. Ecological damage caused long ago by whalers, pirates, and early settlers, and exacerbated by more recent human activity and the presence of aggressive introduced species, has disrupted natural biological processes in Galapagos and endangered many wildlife species. If left unchecked, the Islands will suffer irreversible losses of native and endemic wildlife and plant species.

Marine wildlife and the marine ecosystem have also been under tremendous pressure, especially due to fishing activities of the last few decades. In addition, ever-increasing maritime traffic and changes in ocean temperatures and currents due to global climate change create the potential for the arrival and establishment of increasing numbers of invasive marine species, which will negatively impact the native ecosystem.

Our approach. Galapagos Conservancy’s Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation efforts seek to protect, conserve, and restore healthy, balanced plant and animal communities to a condition similar to that prior to the arrival of humans, and establish management strategies to ensure the sustainability of these communities well into the future. A key component of this effort is the identification of systems and agents with historical, current, or potentially negative impacts on Galapagos ecosystems, and the development of methods to reverse or control them. In addition, there is a very real need for improved development of, access to, and use of knowledge about the Galapagos Islands to ensure effective natural resource management, decision-making, and policy development in support of biodiversity conservation and a sustainable society.

Our partners. The Galapagos National Park Directorate, the Charles Darwin Foundation, local non-profit organizations, Ecuadorian agencies responsible for biosecurity and agriculture, and researchers from both US and Ecuadorian universities are all important partners in our work in Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation.

We are working closely with our partners to:

  • Carry out the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative, which grew out of the international tortoise workshop in 2012, with the long-term goal of restoring tortoise populations to their historical numbers throughout the Archipelago.
  • Improve monitoring of long-term, island-wide restoration efforts on the islands of Pinta, Española, Isabela, Floreana, Santa Fe, and Santiago, with special emphasis on cactus populations.
  • Ensure critical research on major environmental problems, including developing control methods for the Philornis fly and reducing its impact on land bird populations, and improving control methods for invasive plant species, among others.
  • Ensure effective monitoring in marine areas to detect the arrival and dispersal of invasive marine species in order to respond before major impacts have occurred.
  • Ensure improved control of invasive species, such as the Giant African Land Snail, as well as improving quarantine and biosecurity methodologies both in the islands and on the continent.

For more information about our work in the area of Ecosystem Restoration, send us an email.

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