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IGTOA Donates $25,000 to Help Restore Floreana Island

Date: November 14, 2016


This year, IGTOA and its member companies were proud to contribute $80,000 to four organizations working on the front lines of Galapagos conservation. Island Conservation received a $25,000 grant in support of its Floreana Island Biodiversity Heritage Community Campaign. The following is a thank you letter from Island Conservation that explains how IGTOA's funds will be used to safeguard and protect the islands in the coming year.


Dear IGTOA Members,

Floreana Island was the first Galápagos Island to be settled (1832), and has since had a long history of human activity. In large part due to this human interaction, much of the island’s rich biodiversity has been adversely impacted by the introduction of invasive species that have significantly degraded the native habitat and contributed to high levels of species loss. 

The island is currently home to 55 species Red-Listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (10 Critically Endangered, 18 Endangered, and 27 Vulnerable species), the world’s largest Galápagos petrel breeding colony, and 11 other nesting seabird species. Of particular importance is the anticipated return of the Critically Endangered Floreana Mockingbird and Floreana Giant Tortoise to Floreana Island. These species are integral to local identity; their presence on Floreana is ecologically and socio-culturally important to the island. Invasive species have extirpated (locally extinct from a particular region or locale) these species from the island: The Floreana Mockingbird was extirpated between 1868 and 1880 and can now only be found on two rodent and cat-free satellite islets off Floreana Island’s coast; a small number of Floreana Giant Tortoises persist on a nearby island (likely released there in historic times by seafarers who had collected them on Floreana for food). Ten more Floreana-native species are also slated for repatriation once invasive species have been removed from the island.

With the generous support of the International Galápagos Tour Operators Association, Island Conservation (IC) is implementing the Floreana Island Biodiversity Heritage Community Campaign. The project’s primary objective is to build community support and capacity for biodiversity conservation action in general and Floreana Island species repatriation in particular. Our strategy focuses on development and implementation of a community campaign that leads to a high level of local ownership, cooperation, and accountability to prepare for and receive extirpated species. We seek to directly involve the Floreana community in decision-making about species repatriation and the process that must happen to create the conditions to support repatriated species as well as all native Floreana species. The campaign supports the larger goal of restoring Floreana Island’s natural habitat by removing invasive species that currently pose a threat to dozens of endangered species as well as local identity. 

The years of partnership with the Galápagos National Park and other project partners have readied IC for the restoration of Floreana Island. Our previous projects have supported the restoration of relatively small, uninhabited islands, at relatively low cost. This strategy helps local partners to build internal capacities by participating on small-scale projects while also allowing IC and our partners to demonstrate how powerfully effective invasive species removals are as a natural resource management tool. In this way, the groundwork has been set to restore the larger-scaled restoration of Floreana Island. 


Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.


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