Conservation and Environment in Ecuador: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Ecuador Monthly Update: December 2013
Our conservation efforts on the island have been operating for many months now and our commitment is to help the Galapagos National Park (PNG) in many different projects designed to protect and restore the unique ecosystems of the Galapagos.
Invasive plants have altered ecosystems and their unique biodiversity; habitats are being destroyed by man for the extraction of building materials or clearing for new settlements and introduced species, such as the rats and feral cats continue to threaten native fauna. With this in mind we have been working hard with endemic and native plant species found on San Cristobal and our primary work site is Cerro Colorado where the “supirrosa” (Lantana camara) has started to out-compete resident species.
Our aim is to re-create a forested area with plants from the dry zones of the island and thereby increase the number of endemic species and help the conservation of important ecosystems.
We have a database where we surveyed the bird populations on Cerro Colorado thus enabling us to observe any changes to the avian populations as we slowly re-establish the ancestral balance of native plants. In other words, will the bird species dependent on endemic and native plants return in force to the area once the ecosystem resembles that of the island before human encroachment?
Our efforts on Cerro Colorado have entailed clearing large areas of “supirrosa” allowing us to sew saplings from the nearby plant nursery. To date we have reforested 350 plants running from the base to the top of the hill. We dig holes early in the morning and then plant the trees with compost to speed up their growth and improve their survival chances after relocation.
Below is a list of the reforested species so far:
- Guayabillo (Psidium galapageium) - 75 plants
- Lecocarpus Darwinii - 75 plants
- Senna (Senna bicapsularis) - 100 plants
- Matazarno (Piscidia cathargenesis) - 100 plants
Elsewhere we have been working hard in the giant tortoise breeding centre (Chelonoidis chathamensis) clearing away aggressive introduced plant species. This work is essential to encourage the females to lay eggs and also facilitate our collection of the eggs once laid. We also feed the tortoises three times a week and clean their bathing pools to reduce the possibility of disease and infections in the captive populations.
Our work reforesting areas on San Cristobal would not be feasible without saplings to plant and so our work at national park’s plant nursery is essential. Every week we work hard maintaining the seed beds, watering the plants and pruning where necessary. We work on our own nursery in parallel as we wish to work outside the national park with local communities also.
Our censuses of Galapagos’ signature species such as the sea lions and marine iguanas continue and we are constantly updating our data base on resident populations and their movements.
Back in the town of Puerto Baquerizo we are working hard to recover green areas by cleaning and maintaining the parks. Not only is the physical work helping but our example is essential if we hope to change some local attitudes and create a sense of environmental awareness around the town.
I wish you all a happy festive period and look forward to reporting on many more successes as we continue to expand and grow in the New Year….
Conservation Manager, Ecuador