Conservation and Environment in Ecuador: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Ecuador – Monthly Updates: August – September 2014
The Galapagos National Park (GNP) carries out the control and eradication of introduced species on the Island of San Cristobal in the Galapagos, in collaboration with Projects Abroad volunteers who take part in various activities to control the various species of animals and plants that have been introduced into different areas and ecosystems on the island.
During these months we have also worked in the El Progreso nursery, growing endemic and native plants which will be planted in areas affected by introduced plants.
We have continued the control of introduced plants in the Laguna Del Junco and prepared the ground for further reforesting in the areas that are affected by blackberry (Rubus niveus) and guava (Psidium guajava) plants, which are highly competitive and lead to the displacement of endemic species.
We assisted in the maintenance of facilities in the various activities relating to the breeding of giant tortoises on San Cristobal. We eradicated introduced plants in the nesting areas to facilitate the collection of tortoise eggs. There are more nests in the area and we found more than 8 eggs which were placed in the incubator. We helped feed the animals and cleaned the pools to help maintain the health of the tortoises.
We continued to monitor endangered species, such as the sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) and are continuing to create a database of the populations of these species that have been affected by El Nino and climate change, since their populations have decreased drastically.
On beaches where there are colonies of marine iguanas and resting areas for seals, with the help of our volunteers coastal cleanups have been performed on the land where the animals find themselves. Garbage is classified and weighed so we can keep track of the amount of garbage that is collected.
We are also aiming to promote organic farming by the local farmers, to help teach them not to destroy the environment by using chemicals and fertilizers, and are working with the Ministry of Agriculture in Ecuador to teach farmers how to make compost with organic materials on their own farms, so that they will not alter the fragile environment of the islands, but on the other hand will help to preserve the environment and learn about a new way to look after and care for natural resources.
We continue to work on our nursery in El Progresso, where we have at the moment a variety of endemic and native plants from the different climatic zones of the island, and the plants that are large enough will be established in areas that need to be reforested, and from which introduced plants have been removed.
At the top of the island, we are continuing with the project to control rats’ nesting areas. As for the Galapagos Petrel, an endangered bird, we are conducting surveys in different bird nesting areas and rat traps are being set. We hope to increase the number of new nests that reach reproductive success.
Reforestation has been carried out in several areas of the island where there are introduced plants that affect other plant and animal species.
The health of the turtles is good; their weight is fine and is growing apace, with no diseases or problems with their diet.
The monitored sites are clean without the presence of litter. The populations of the species studied are in good health, no dead animals.
Some farms are already using organic compost.
The use of pesticides is decreasing on the farms.
Until next time….
Conservation Manager, San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador