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The Galápagos Verde Program is divided into 7 different projects:

  1. Ecological restoration of Española Island through adaptive management for the recovery of Opuntia megasperma var. orientalis on Española Island (PC-13-22).
  2. Evaluation of biotic and abiotic factors affecting the restoration of Opuntia echios var. echios on Plaza Sur (PC-38-22).
  3. Ecological restoration in Baltra Island: development of a method of restoration of arid ecosystems applicable on a large scale (PC-22-22).
  4. Urban ecological restoration processes and conservation of characteristic species, together with the local community in the Galapagos Islands (PC-24-22).
  5. Recovery of endangered plant species in protected areas of the Galapagos National Park (PC-15-22).
  6. Rural restoration: development of rural ecological restoration processes through the establishment of agroecosystems on the islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Floreana (PC-14-22).
  7. Ecological restoration and diversity assessment in special use sites (mines and garbage dumps) (PC-33-22).

 

1. Ecological restoration of Española Island through adaptive management for the recovery of Opuntia megasperma var. orientalis on Española Island (PC-13-22).

 

Opuntia megasperma var. orientalis is a cactus species endemic to the island of Española. This keystone species serves as a food source for giant tortoises, nesting and feeding structures for birds, and refuge for many other endemic and native species that inhabit the island. Unfortunately, the O. megasperma population was drastically reduced by feral goats, which were introduced to Española two centuries ago. Although the goats were eradicated in 1978, O. megasperma has not been able to recover due to their slow growth (approx. 2 cm per year), natural herbivory by endemic fauna, and the arid climatic conditions of the island. Therefore, this project seeks to contribute to the restoration of the ecological integrity of Española Island through the recovery of the Opuntia megasperma var. orientalis population using innovative and effective restoration strategies.

Figure 18. Map of the population distribution of Opuntia megasperma var. orientalis on the island of Española.

 

Research questions

These are some of the relevant questions we have of this project: 1) How do we measure the success of the restoration actions of the intervened sites on Española? 2) What is the most cost-effective method (water-saving technology) to restore Española through replantation with Opuntia megasperma.

 

See video: Ecological restoration on Española island

 

References

 

Read more about our project on española island (blogs):

 

2. Evaluation of biotic and abiotic factors affecting the restoration of Opuntia echios var. echios on Plaza Sur (PC-38-22)

 

Plaza Sur, despite being one of the smallest islands of the archipelago, has become an iconic tourist destination due to its extraordinary flora and fauna. Among its main attractions are land iguanas and Opuntia cacti. Unfortunately, the Opuntia echios var. echios population has been affected by a combination of several events, such as introduced rodents, pressure from herbivores such as native iguanas, and extreme weather events such as El Niño and La Niña. In addition, an understudied factor is soil properties and their effect on the O. echios population. This is why GV2050 initiated restoration efforts in 2013, obtaining valuable results on the effectiveness of using water-saving technologies for O. echios restoration. Currently, the project is focused on the ecological restoration of Plaza Sur, through the restoration of the population of Opuntia echios var. echios using the island of Plaza Norte as a reference ecosystem.

Figure 19. Geographical location of the three study sites and seedlings of Opuntia echios var. echios on Plaza Sur Island.

 

Research questions 

These are some of the relevant questions we have of this project: 1) Does the amount of water added at the time of planting influence Opuntia survival? 2) Although it does not have land iguanas, is Plaza Norte a suitable reference ecosystem for Plaza Sur? 3) Do land iguanas create strong effects on natural restoration of Opuntia echios var. echios on Plaza Sur Island compared to Plaza Norte which has no land iguanas? 4) Do iguanas effectively disperse the seeds of cacti and other species present on Plaza Sur, and is the main element of the diet of land iguanas only the few remaining cacti on Plaza Sur? 5) Are particular soil properties associated with increased Opuntia restoration? 6) Are there any nutrient deficiencies or toxic elements associated with Opuntia on the two islands, and are these stress factors affecting the observed differential patterns of restoration?

 

Figure 20. The ecosystem of Plaza Norte.

 

See video: History about Opuntia virtual

 

References

 

Read more about our project on Plaza Sur island (blogs):

 

3. Ecological restoration in Baltra Island: development of a method of restoration of arid ecosystems applicable on a large scale (PC-22-22)

 

Baltra is one of the islands of the archipelago that has suffered the greatest degradation due to its use as a U.S. Army air base during World War II. Today, most of the original vegetation has disappeared and the island is marked by abandoned infrastructure, metal debris, and waste. Baltra is also the first place tourists see when they arrive at the Galapagos Ecological Airport located on the island. For ecological reasons, as well as for the image that the Galapagos Islands convey to the world, as this is the first impression tourists have of the archipelago, it is necessary to establish a methodology for large-scale ecological restoration of the island. This is why GV2050 began efforts to restore the flora on this island in 2013, obtaining valuable results on the effectiveness of the use of water-saving technologies. In 2021, the relatively undegraded Seymour Norte Island was used as a reference ecosystem to generate restoration targets for Baltra. Because of this, the vegetation of woody species and cacti on Seymour Norte was evaluated, resulting in a list of 15 priority species and target densities for Baltra. With the information gathered, the project hopes to contribute to the conservation of Baltra through the development of an arid ecosystem restoration method applicable on a large scale on sites with different uses.



Figure 21. Ecological restoration of Baltra Island. Cactus growing next to human impact. 

Photo: Joshua Vela

 

Research questions

These are some of the relevant questions we have of this project: 1) What ecological characteristics of Seymour Norte can be used as a reference for the natural areas that still exist on Baltra Island? 2) What water-saving technologies are most cost-effective for the 15 species in our Seymour Norte reference ecosystem? 3) How are the woody plants of Seymour Norte similar to those of Baltra?

Figure 22. Map of Baltra Island showing the current study sites, the percentage of plants per site, the area and the percentage of plants per treatment. In addition, it considers the plantings made in the first phase of the project (red dots) and those made in the second phase (yellow dots).

 

References

 

Read more about our project on Baltra island (blogs):

 

4. Urban ecological restoration processes and conservation of characteristic species, together with the local community in the Galapagos Islands (PC-24-22)

 

Galapagos has four inhabited islands (San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Isabela, and Floreana) with populations that continue to increase, creating challenges for the conservation of the islands. Infrastructure development, commercial activities, and economic sectors cause negative environmental impacts on the ecosystems. The expansion of the urban area provides ideal conditions for the spread of invasive species that affect and displace endemic species with a restricted distribution. This is the case for Scalesia affinis, an endemic shrub originally distributed in what is now Puerto Ayora (on Santa Cruz Island), which is currently in critical danger of extinction. Therefore, the project will focus on the restoration of urban ecosystems through the implementation of ecological gardens as the main tool for the recovery of endangered species in urban areas through the integration of the local community in these processes.

 

Research questions

These are some of the relevant questions we have of this project:  1) How do ecological gardens contribute to urban restoration? 2) What are the limitations in the germination of S. affinis? What methodology is effective for mass reproduction of S. affinis? 3) How is the participation of the community related to the successful care of ecological gardens in Puerto Ayora?

 

References


Figure 23. Urban Restoration – Capitanía de Puerto - Puerto Ayora

 

Figure 24. Ecological Gardens created by GV2050 at the Charles Darwin Research Station using endemic plants. Photo Patricia Jaramillo Díaz

 

See video: Ecological corridor (ciclovia) on Puerto Ayora

See video: Ecological urban ecological restoration https://youtu.be/mPyXIcP45ko

 

Read more about our project on populated islands (Blogs): 

 

5. Recovery of endangered plant species in protected areas of the Galapagos National Park (PC-15-22)

 

The Galapagos Islands are recognized worldwide for their diversity of endemic species. Unfortunately, in the case of the Galapagos flora, many endemic species are threatened. It is known that 12% of the plant species of the archipelago are Critically Endangered (CR), 15% are Endangered (EN), and 32% are Vulnerable (VU). For this reason, GV2050 hopes to contribute to the preservation of Galapagos biodiversity through the restoration of threatened species. Currently the project is focused on the recovery of 3 endangered species; Lecocarpus lecocarpoides, Galvezia leucantha subps. leucantha, and Scalesia retroflexa. However, it is expected to continue expanding efforts to other species in the future. To select these species, an evaluation of all Galapagos endemic plants will be carried out using the IUCN criteria.

 

Research Questions

These are some of the relevant questions we have of this project: 1) What are the most effective strategies to assist in the restoration of each of the endangered species? 2) What is the condition and distribution of the populations of the endangered species? 3) What are the threats the endangered species are facing?

 

References

 

Figure 25. Map of Española Island and surrounding islets with the distribution of L. lecocarpoides populations (orange dots). The only population of this plant on Española Island is marked with red dots in the sector known as Punta Manzanillo.

 

Figure 26. From left to right, flowers of: Scalesia retroflexa, Lecocarpus lecocarpoides, Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha.

Figure 27. Distribution map of Scalesia retroflexa populations in the southeast of Santa Cruz Island (red dots).

 

Read more about our project on threatened and endangered species  (Blogs): 

 

6. Rural restoration: development of rural ecological restoration processes through the establishment of agroecosystems on the islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Floreana (PC-14-22)

 

The humid highlands of Galapagos are the most productive regions of the islands, resulting in high development of agricultural activities. Agricultural expansion not only eliminates endemic and native flora through deforestation, but also makes these lands more vulnerable to the spread of invasive species. However, the proper management of agroecosystems can turn agriculture into an ally for the conservation of the islands. Silvopastoral agroecosystems, and agroforestry such as coffee grown under Scalesia pedunculata shade can generate services such as biological nitrogen fixation through mycorrhizal consortium that allow the improvement of soil microbiota, carbon sequestration that contributes to counteract the effects of fossil fuel use, attraction of pollinators that help with the process of fertilization of seeds of endemic plants and their subsequent dispersal; The project will also help to reduce phytopathological problems by promoting the establishment of healthy ecological niches, which will generate new protection zones for endangered species. Therefore, this project will be based on the restoration of degraded ecosystems in rural areas of agricultural use, by recovering endemic and native plants on farms in the Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Floreana Islands. Also promoting the role of women in agriculture, management of their farms as a source of economic income in their homes and science.

 

Research Questions

These are some of the relevant questions we have of this project: 1) Which water-saving technologies, which species, and which field designs allow greater implementation and survival of key native and endemic species for rural ecological restoration? 2) How do agroforestry systems with native and endemic species contribute to the generation of ecosystem services? 3) How can native mycorrhizae be an alternative to improve nutrient uptake, water use efficiency, and increase survival of native and endemic species in rural ecological restoration areas? 4) What actions can be taken to increase women's participation in agriculture, conservation, and ecological sustainability?

Read more about the role of women working in the GV2050 project (video and blog):

 

References

 

Figure 28. Map of Floreana Island with its vegetation zones outlined. The red dots represent the study sites for rural restoration on the island.

 

Figure 29. Map of San Cristobal Island with its vegetation zones outlined. The red dots represent the study sites for rural restoration on the island.

 

Figura 30. Map of Santa Cruz Island with its vegetation zones outlined. The red dots represent the study sites for rural restoration on the island.

 

See video: Agriculture component GV2050

 

Read more about our project on rural ecological restoration (Blog):

 

7. Ecological restoration and diversity assessment in special use sites (mines and garbage dumps) (PC-33-22).

 

Population growth in Galapagos has resulted in a greater number of basic needs that must be provided to the population, such as education, food, health care, and waste management. To meet this demand, the GNPS established Special Public Use Sites, which house facilities and services for the benefit of the public, such as areas for the extraction of stone material and garbage dumps. These sites show extensive degradation both in the site itself and in the surrounding area. Therefore, GV2050 has selected Special Public Use Sites as study sites for ecological restoration efforts. At three of these sites, the black granite (gravel) mine in Floreana and the garbage dumps in both Floreana and Baltra, we have been intervening for more than 8 years, with successful results. Therefore, this project will focus on investigating the restoration process carried out so far and continue the restoration of the most affected sites through the planting of native and endemic plants using water-saving technologies.

 

Research Questions

These are some of the relevant questions we have of this project: 1) What are the characteristics of biological diversity (plant and insect diversity) in restored sites with respect to what occurs in the naturally regenerating communities in the Floreana black granite mine and the Floreana and Baltra garbage dumps? 2) What is the biological and ecological effect on the ecosystem resulting from ecological restoration activities on the successional state of the plant communities in the Floreana black granite mine and garbage dumps in Floreana and Baltra? 3) How has the ecological integrity of restored sites been recovered in terms of the success of the native and endemic seedlings planted?

 

References

 

Figure 31. General map of the Galapagos Islands showing the Special Use sites on the islands of Baltra, Floreana and San Cristóbal, and the growth of the sowings that have been carried out since the beginning of the GV2050 program.

 

Figure 32. Old garbage dump on Baltra Island.

 

Bibliography

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