IGTOA Donates $60,000 to Galapagos Conservation

IGTOA and its members are providing close to $60,000 USD in 2013 to four different non-profit organizations working to protect and conserve the Galapagos Islands.

The organizations that will receive funding from the IGTOA in 2013 are WildAid, The Charles Darwin Foundation, Sea Shepherd Galapagos and Ecology Project International.

"IGTOA and its members recognize that as tour operators we have both a responsibility and an obligation to ensure that tourism remains a positive force in the Galapagos Islands," says Kurt Kutay, president and founder of IGTOA member company Wildland Adventures and president of IGTOA's board of directors. "Through our Traveler Funding Program our members and their travelers are able to support projects that will make a real difference."

Since it was founded in 1997 IGTOA and its member companies have raised more than $600,000 USD for conservation and professional development projects in the Galapagos. Organizations working in the Galapagos are invited to submit funding requests, which are then voted on and approved by IGTOA's member companies.

WildAid will receive $25,000 USD to support their efforts to strengthen the Galapagos quarantine chain in order to prevent the introduction of invasive species into the Galapagos Archipelago. Their efforts are focused on strengthening all aspects of the current shipping system including mainland and island port facilities, qualifications of biosecurity personnel, equipment, cargo handling at both embarkation and arrival, and cargo vessel standards. IGTOA also awarded $25,000 USD to WildAid in 2012 for the same project.

The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) will receive $14,989 USD to establish a long-term environmental surveillance and monitoring program to evaluate the health status of, and threats to, the natural inhabitants of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR). The funds will allow the CDF to create an emergency network to detect sick, injured or dead marine wildlife in the reserve and allow conservation managers to obtain important information about injuries and cause of death and respond more quickly and effectively to disease outbreaks.

 "The Charles Darwin Foundation has been providing science for the conservation of Galapagos for more than 50 years," says Swen Lorenz, executive director, Charles Darwin Foundation. "Virtually all of our funding is privately raised, and we rely to a high degree on a small number of long-standing, loyal donors that are particularly close to our cause. IGTOA is one of the organizations that helps to improve the standards - including 'green' standards - of tourism in Galapagos."

Sea Shepherd Galapagos will receive $10,000 USD in order to help them strengthen the currently weak enforcement and prosecution of environmental crimes within the GMR.

Ecology Project International (EPI) will receive $9,600 USD to help them prevent the loss of endemic biodiversity in Galapagos, build local capacity for conservation leadership, and engage teens in research and conservation. Specifically IGTOA's funds will allow EPI to implement ten Galapagos Islands Ecology Program courses for a total of 150 local students and ten teachers from all nine Galapagos schools and will help contribute to the protection of the archipelago by allowing students to monitor 60 tortoises in the wild, to eradicate 6,000 square meters of invasive blackberry plants, and to restore native habitat for giant tortoises and other species.  

Matt Kareus

Matt is the Executive Director of IGTOA.

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