Conservation and Environment in Ecuador: Monthly Updates
Ecuador Conservation update March - April 2016
The Conservation Team worked on the six main projects developed in the Galapagos. Introduced species control, maintenance of green houses, tortoise nursery and feeding related activities, wild life monitoring, coastal clean ups and petrel nest project activities. Extra activities were also performed in order to reinforce volunteers, commitment to the environment. Also, new Conservation staff Ramiro Adrian, joined Projects Abroad on April.
This facility designed to protect and provide home and safety to a population of tortoises needs permanent care. Galapagos National Park rangers are assisted by Projects Abroad volunteers on several activities. We cut down introduced specie lantana in order to remove obstacles that reduce the access to the whole breeding area. This activity also provides place for new nesting spots for the tortoises. We clean the feeding platforms and then feed the animals. Tortoises are fed with Otoy, also called elephant ears, a plant grown for this purpose by GNP(Galapagos national park Service). We monitored also the small individuals, in between 1-6 years old, measuring size and weight. We counted 72 individuals. This monitoring has to be done 3 times a year.
We have been monitoring marine iguanas on three different beaches. We give the volunteer the necessary information related to sex differentiation between individuals and the conservation objectives for the project. The volunteer has the chance to see and understand the natural and semi natural environment where iguanas live. The information collected is given to the Galapagos National Park for their use and projects. Also Projects Abroad keeps a database that helps for interpretation in different topics such as human impact on the trails next to their nesting areas.
Otoy Plantation and Future Green House
There is an area in the highlands, in a place called Goteras, which the Galapagos National Park designated for reforestation and conservation of native and endemic species. Volunteers and staff have been working in the maintenance of this area that is mainly an Otoy plantation (plant used to feed the land tortoises). We have worked on the control of the most invasive plant specie of all, the blackberry. This specie has special reproductive and growing skills that directly affect the other species survival status. We have also arranged a project that is going to clear a specific area, for reforestation of endemic trees and plants.
Petrels Nest Project
Petrels are endemic marine birds that nest on the highlands. They face a problem on their nesting areas due to rats, which feed on their eggs. Conservation team helps to place rat traps around the area and give maintenance to this system. We place poison, clean the traps and monitor the nests.
Coastal Clean Ups
The pollution due to human waste gets driven towards the coasts of the Galapagos. Several clean ups are developed each month to prevent animals dying because of plastic ingestion and other garbage related incidents. Conservation team assisted National Park rangers on cleaning the coastal line close to the populated area towards the north. GNP boats took us to the starting point and picked us up to collect the waste. We weighed 10k of garbage on this day.
Several other small clean ups were undertaken in order to keep beaches and populated areas clear. Also we started developing a campaign that wants to reduce and eventually stop waste being thrown on the streets and beaches. It will embrace previous campaigns and organizations.
Sea Lions Project
Monitoring sea lions is a permanent activity that we carry out in order to have a complete database. GNP uses the information provided to develop projects and to understand and give interpretation to different processes. We monitor the beaches that surround populated areas every day in the morning. We commit volunteers to the task as it is a very important project for sea lion conservation.
Green House Development
We are developing an area located close to the highland town El Progreso. We work on organic agriculture and preparation of soil to make compost and sustain the production independently. Crops of native and endemic plants are grown on the area and given maintenance weekly. We started preparing the place for building composters and a larger scale green house close to the agricultural sites in order to become a pedagogic natural place to promote conservation and environmental friendly activities.
Among the other activities, conservation has organized some interpretation walks around the visiting sites near the populated areas. The objective is to engage the volunteer with the environment from the inside. We explain and expose ecosystems and species to reinforce the knowledge and love of nature. These walks have allowed our volunteers to visit some of the most precious sites and enjoy diverse activities such as snorkelling, bird watching, fruit picking, and others. Also we water reforested plants in some areas like Loberia, Playa de los Marinos and others.
Conservation Project Manager