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Grant Status Report: $25,000 to Island Conservation for the Floreana Island Restoration Project

Date: August 3, 2020

Floreana Island was the first Galapagos Island to be settled by humans (in 1832). This long history of human habitation has adversely affected the biodiversity and ecological health of the island. Species introduced by humans, such as rats and cats, are a principal reason why 10 Floreana species are listed as critically endangered, and 13 others have become extinct locally (gone from Floreana but present elsewhere in the archipelago). Cats, for example, prey upon Galapagos petrels, frigate birds, pelicans, boobies, finches, and mockingbirds as well as marine iguana and giant tortoise hatchlings. Island Conservation is spearheading an ambitious multiyear plan, the Floreana Island Restoration Project, which aims to extirpate feral cats, rats, and mice and restore much of the native biodiversity that has been lost from the island, including the Floreana giant tortoise and the Floreana mockingbird.


To date, IC has spent $13,269  of the grant, which was used to support project personnel overseeing construction efforts on Floreana Island. You can read the full report here. Some activities related to the project have been understandably interrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made interisland travel impossible. This is a brief summary of what's been accomplished using IGTOA's grant thus far: 

  1. Infrastructure is in place, functional, and being used for holding livestock.
    a. Pilot cattle corral’s final details were completed in early 2020 and it has initiated operations. 
    b.   Materials for the construction of eight chicken coops were purchased and shipped to Floreana in early 2020. Construction contract initiated in January 2020 and three coops were completed by mid-March when all workers on Floreana were ordered home due to COVID shut-down. 
    c.    Funds secured for a pilot piggery, for construction in 2020. Materials will be delivered in June and construction is programmed to start in August 2020.
    d.  CGREG (the Galapagos governing council) re-designated nearly $630,000 of funds for COVID response that had been allocated to developing agricultural infrastructure on Floreana. Some of these funds were directed to the Ministry of Agriculture, and may still end up being invested in piggery construction on Floreana.
     
  2.  Port infrastructure is in place to support off-loading of full shipping containers using barges with trucks onboard on all but the lowest of tides.
    a. Although funds have officially been transferred to the San Cristobal Municipality and an agreement is signed between the Municipality and CGREG, it is uncertain whether or not these funds will be retracted by Central Government (Ministry of Finance), or whether the project will move forward as planned albeit with some delays due to travel restrictions. We continue getting updates from the Mayor of San Cristobal and are supporting them in navigating the situation.

 

 

 

 


Floreana Island is the sixth largest island in the Galápagos Archipelago and lies 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador. The volcanic island is a hot spot of biodiversity and was once home to a thriving ecosystem of endemic and native wildlife.

The island was first settled in 1832. With human habitation came invasive species—including rats and feral cats—which quickly spread throughout the island. Today, due to the impacts of these invasive predators, native wildlife hangs in the balance. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists 54 species that call this island home as threatened, and 13 native animals are locally extinct.
 

 

To restore Floreana Island’s biodiversity, Island Conservation and project partners are working towards the removal of invasive rodents and feral cats. In 2019, we requested IGTOA’s support for our continued efforts to complete preparation activities, specifically to cover a gap in funding to cover salary and travel costs for the supervision of construction crews for chicken coops, cattle yards, and piggeries, and maintaining coordination with the San Cristobal Municipality around port infrastructure overhaul related to farm infrastructure to ensure we are implementation-ready by 2021. Toward that effort, thus far in 2020 we have completed or advanced the following objectives:
1.    Infrastructure is in place, functional, and being used for holding livestock. 
a.    Pilot cattle corral’s final details were completed in early 2020 and it has initiated operations. 
b.    Materials for construction of 8 chicken coops were purchased and shipped to Floreana in early 2020. Construction contract initiated in January 2020 and 3 coops were completed by mid-March when all workers on Floreana were ordered home due to COVID shut-down. Travel restrictions are supposed to relax on the 1st of July, which will allow crews to return to work. This will depend upon new cases of COVID in Santa Cruz Island not occurring or being effectively controlled.
c.    Funds secured for a pilot piggery, for construction in 2020. Materials will be delivered in June and construction is programmed to start in August 2020.
d.    CGREG re-designated nearly $630,000 of funds for COVID response that had been allocated to developing agricultural infrastructure on Floreana. Some of these funds were directed to the Ministry of Agriculture, and may still end up being invested in piggery construction on Floreana.
Table 1. June 2020 update on the status of agricultural infrastructure required for implementing invasive predator eradications on Floreana Island.

Completed    In progress (finance secured or under construction)    To finance
Shipping containers for rodent-proof storage of animal feeds and materials    14 18    4
Water reservoir covers and rainwater capture    7    0    0
Chicken coops    10    5    0
Cattle corrals    1    0    4
Piggeries    0    1    6


2.    Port infrastructure is in place to support off-loading of full shipping containers using barges with trucks onboard on all but the lowest of tides.
a.    Although funds have officially been transferred to the San Cristobal Municipality and an agreement is signed between the Municipality and CGREG, it is uncertain whether or not these funds will be retracted by Central Government (Ministry of Finance), or whether the project will move forward as planned albeit with some delays due to travel restrictions. We continue getting updates from the Mayor of San Cristobal and are supporting them in navigating the situation.

Other activities occurring in parallel to advance the project, but which are not directly supported by IGTOA during 2020 include: 
1) Expand highland and lowland aviaries to hold a target number of finches during implementation 
•    Funding has been partially secured by our partners, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. We are working with them to identify and secure the remaining funds required. As this partner is leading this component the expectation is that they’ll do the heavy lifting on this. 
2) Develop individual property management agreements
•    Progressing. Although travel restrictions have halted advancing these with the community since March. Expecting to be able to return and re-initiate work in July. If no further delays occur, it is anticipated that all agreements will be in place by the end of 2020.
3) Regulation for domestic pet sterilization approved by San Cristobal Municipality for implementing and enforcement by the ABG 
•    San Cristobal Municipality has a draft regulation ready for internal debate, of which 2 rounds are required before it can be passed.
•    We have navigated getting specific language for pets and domestic animals within the proposed new Galapagos Special Law, and have secured National Assembly members support for these additions. Engagements to maintain the language as proposed are underway and will continue until the law is passed. This would provide a higher level of regulatory force than a municipal regulation and apply to all inhabited islands.
4) Conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment
•    Terms of Reference agreed upon with GNPD. Contracting process underway for identifying a specialist consultant for this work using GEF funds.
5) Sustain community engagement, and 
•    Travel restrictions have halted in-person engagements since March. Expected to re-initiate in July. 
6) Develop significant advances in fundraising to support a 2021 implementation
•    Fundraising has been complicated by COVID challenges and Ecuador’s economic crisis that have led to a decision to delay the proposed 2021 implementation. A new target-year will be identified during 2020. 
•    See #5 for fundraising advances.
Please cite any available evidence to demonstrate your success in achieving the progress described above, including the objective criteria, statistics and data listed in your grant request.    
See Table 1 in Question 1 for a quantitative breakdown of progress on agricultural infrastructure.
If you have not achieved your intended results or objectives at this stage of your program or project as described in your grant proposal, please explain why.    
See #7.
If your project is not yet complete, please indicate if you have the necessary funding to complete it:    
No
If you answered "No" or "Other" above, please explain your answer, including the amount of funding still needed, and how you intend to procure that funding:    
The work supported by this grant is embedded within our multi-year effort to prepare for the implementation of the Floreana Restoration Project. Funding sources that are being cultivated and/or have been secured for the project implementation phase are listed in the following question. In addition, we are actively working to identify sources of new and ongoing funding to support post-eradication work, including repatriation of native species that have been extirpated from Floreana. Many of the later sources are not available to support eradication activities.
If applicable, please list other funding sources and amounts received for this project during this period and describe the status of any other funding required to complete your project, including the source of that funding and when you will receive it.
The 2020 project budget is approximately $1,300,000, excluding contributions from CGREG for wharf and farm infrastructure. Secured funds for 2020 include GEF-6 ($448,000), Galapagos Invasive Species Fund ($270,000), SilverSea ($32,000), National Geographic-Lindblad Expeditions Fund ($120,000 – tentative, high probability) and Galapagos Conservation Trust ($25,000). David and Lucile Packard Foundation (up to $120,000). We have been and continue applying to a series of other funds as they are identified throughout the year (e.g. UNDP’s Lion’s cub $50,000; InterAmerican Foundation $240,000).

For eradication implementation, we have secured several major contributions such as Bell Labs' $610,000 contribution in bait products. We’re working to reduce implementation costs and the current fundraising gap of approximately $6 million. Several large opportunities are being targeted, including Blue Action Fund (~$600,000), GEF-7 ($1.2m), and USAID (recently invited back into the country) in conjunction with government partners. In-kind contributions from GNPD, GBA, and CGREG are expected to significantly reduce the funding gap (somewhere between $1 – 2.2 million) – however, with government economic crisis these will need to be revisited.
Please describe any significant changes in your organization or the project since the grant was awarded (i.e., financial health, executive leadership, staff, facilities, location).    
We do not anticipate any significant changes to our organizational structure or financial health this year as we feared during the early weeks of the pandemic. In March 2020, IC applied for and received a grant in the amount of 442,615.00 to support US staff salaries under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) during the pandemic. Despite some setbacks, our teams have continued moving forward approximately 17 projects through desktop feasibility studies, project planning, partnership coordination, publishing scientific manuscripts, and other project-related tasks.
Please explain any significant challenges or obstacles to completing this project or achieving the objectives and results cited in your grant request:
The project has experienced some setbacks this year because of the global COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and economic crisis in Ecuador. There have been three primary impacts, 1. Travel restrictions have slowed on-the-ground progress of constructions and face-to-face engagements with partners and the community, 2. Government funding priorities changed in response to health emergency seeing some funds allocated to advancing Floreana being redirected, 3. Tourism has stopped in the Galapagos, affecting funding streams from tourism companies and their guests. As a result, eradication implementation has been delayed.
Please feel free to provide any additional information you feel may help us better understand the current status of your project and your plans for the future:    
During the COVID crisis, we have been providing support to government institutions and the Floreana community by providing personal protective equipment. One of IC’s staff based in North Carolina is a pandemic disease response expert, with previous deployments dealing with Ebola and more than a decade managing a high-consequence pathogen lab for the US government. We made this staffer available to CGREG, and they have been using him to advise on strategies around COVID, bringing back residents and initiating tourism activities.
Please attach a detailed accounting of how IGTOA grant funds have been spent during this period, including who received the funds and the date of each expenditure.    
Please check this box to indicate that all of the information provided above is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.    
Created
1 Jul 2020
9:46:19 AM
PUBLIC
162.236.247.70
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Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.


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