IGTOA Awards Over $100,000 in Conservation Grants for 2024

Six organizations working on the frontlines of Galápagos conservation, education, and community development will receive a total of $105,000 through IGTOA’s Galápagos Traveler Conservation Fund (GTCF) grant program in 2024. The GTCF is made possible through the support of IGTOA members and their clients who support the fund by making a minimum donation of $20 per Galápagos passenger. Grants are awarded to people and organizations whose work supports our mission of preserving the Galápagos Islands as a unique and priceless world heritage that will provide enjoyment, education, adventure and inspiration to present and future generations of travelers.

Association of Galápagos Guides (AGIPA): The Community Library on Santa Cruz, $30,000

As the only public library in the Galápagos Islands, the community library on Santa Cruz provides critical access to information to people of all ages and from all backgrounds, supports life-long education, and provides internet access to many who would otherwise lack it. It also serves as a venue for educational workshops, symposiums, and cultural events and activities.

The library, which receives no government funding, operates under the stewardship of AGIPA, which took on responsibility for administering it in 2018 after previous funding sources dried up and the facility fell into disrepair. With funding from IGTOA, AGIPA was able to restore and renovate the library, buy new books and equipment, and hire a full-time librarian. Since then, thousands of Galapagos residents have used the library's resources and attended discussions and workshops there, covering everything from literacy, conservation, mental health issues, and vocational training. 

IGTOA’s $30,000 grant will be paid out in quarterly installments and will cover the bulk of the library’s 2024 operating expenses.

ECOS: Empowering Youth Conservation Leaders through Experiential Education, $30,000

We believe that the most important thing that we can do to support Galápagos conservation in the long run is to help empower young people to become engaged and informed stewards of their own natural heritage. This is why IGTOA is once again proud to support the important work of ECOS, which provides immersive, hands-on environmental education, and field activities for Galápagos youth.

ECOS will use the grant to fund three multi-day, immersive field courses for 13 to 15 students per course. Each course will include 30 to 40 hours of instruction and a field trip to a visitor site within Galápagos National Park. IGTOA funding will also support the ongoing ECOS Mola Ecology Club and ECOS Outreach Programs at Santa Cruz Island, which provides local youth with activities based on community service, conservation, science, and connection to nature. Finally, ECOS will use part of our grant to fund an international cultural exchange program with a youth eco club in La Paz, Mexico.

Naveducando: Galápagos Infinito an “Oceanic Classroom” for Galapagos youth, $14,500

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. That’s why IGTOA has made it a priority to support programs that empower Galápagos youth to explore, understand, and appreciate their remarkable island home. 

One such program is Galápagos Infinito, which utilizes existing tourism infrastructure to provide transformative educational programs in the field for the islands’ 500 or so seventh graders, many of whom have had limited exposure to the protected areas of the Galápagos National Park. In partnership with local cruise providers and with support from IGTOA, students have the opportunity to participate in a full day of sailing, snorkeling, and immersion into the wonders of the islands in the company of educators and local experts.

Our grant will be used to facilitate Naveducando's participation in the World Wide Climate Justice Week & Education of Sustainable Development Teacher Training Week on Climate Change, student onboard experiences aboard the Oosterschelde through the Darwin 200 project, and oceanic classrooms and sailing activities.

The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF): Assessing Galápagos Green Turtle Vulnerability to Climate Change: $13,000

The Galápagos Islands are contain more than 100 beaches that serve as nesting sites for the endangered East Pacific green turtle. It has been documented that rising global temperatures have impacted hatchling sex ratios of several different turtle species around the world, resulting in higher than normal numbers of female turtles. Rising temperatures are also increasing the frequency and severity of hurricanes, torrential storms and tidal surges that can flood and erode nesting habitats.

The CDF and the Galápagos National Park have collected more than twelve years of baseline turtle nesting data, but there has been no extensive monitoring of nesting habitat during a strong El Niño event. IGTOA’s grant will help fund the monitoring of the incubation temperature of turtle nests and beach erosion at one of the primary green turtle nesting sites in Galápagos. This will help scientists assess potential current or future impacts of climate change on sex ratios and hatchling success in this crucial nesting rookery. The findings will support environmental authorities in creating action plans to mitigate potential current and future climate change impacts on Galápagos sea turtles.


Island Conservation: Reintroduction of Woodpecker Finches to Pinzón Island, $10,000

Since 2016, IGTOA has been proud to support Island Conservation’s (IC) groundbreaking efforts to rewild the Galápagos Islands with more than $140,000 in grant funding. IC has pioneered the use of drone technology in the Galapagos Islands as a tool for ecological restoration, by using it to control and eliminate harmful invasive species and to reintroduce locally extinct native species. 

This year we are thrilled to support IC’s effort to reintroduce woodpecker finches on Pinzón Island. If successful, it would be the first instance of an endemic passerine species recovering its native range in the archipelago and will lay the groundwork for future reintroductions of this kind, including reintroductions considered on Floreana Island. 

Frente Insular Marina de Galápagos (FIRMAG), #GalapagosMiResponsabilidad Radio Program, and Community Art and Recycling Programs, $7,500

FIRMAG is a community-based, grassroots organization dedicated to educating and  motivating the citizens of the Galápagos to get involved in important social and environmental issues and to give them a collective voice on important subjects. 

The centerpiece of this activity is the #GalapagosMiResponsabilidad radio program, which has become a vital platform for keeping a wide swath of the Galápagos community informed about important environmental, social and cultural news. The weekly, commercial-free radio program is an independent voice that seeks to “link the community with the environment” by providing news and perspectives that local people may not otherwise have access to. The problem of single use plastics and the need for better protection and monitoring of the Galápagos Marine Reserve are just two of the issues the program has kept at the forefront of public attention in recent years. The radio program also provides workshops that give young people in the Galápagos the opportunity to learn and develop new skills, including public speaking, radio production, journalism, and more. 

IGTOA’s grant will be used to help cover operating and production expenses and to provide funding for FIRMAG’s recycled art workshop to purchase materials and to train artisans and volunteers.

Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.

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