Live life in the highland forests and waterfalls of the Galapagos
Many of the species of plants and animals on the Galapagos Islands are unique to the Galapagos. One of the main problems is the introduction of non-native species through the importation of food to the Galapagos from mainland Ecuador. This is a particular issue because so little is grown on the island.
Run by a private foundation, this is a conservation project working in the highlands area of San Christobel. The purpose of the project is to conserve the native species of Galapagos, seeding them in a nursery and replanting them into the conservation area, while at the same time removing the non-native flora.
In addition to conservation, the project operates an organic market garden, demonstrating how the fertile soil of Galapagos can grow a range of fruit and vegetables, reducing the dependency on the expensive import of produce (that also runs the risk of unwittingly bringing in non-native species). To this end, the project provides support to neighbouring land owners to demonstrate this capability and educates locals on developing sustainable solutions.
The conservation area operates in a unique area of the island where four different layers of the forest can be experienced in just 500 metres (the dry forest, transition forest, scalecia forest and miconia robinsoniana).
The project leaders help educate volunteers on the flora and fauna, explaining how the native plants are vital to the ecosystem, and how non-native species present risks to the fragile environment.
This Galapagos conservation project is suitable for gap year students, volunteers with an interest in conservation, the environment, organic farming and a passion for the outdoors.
Volunteers rotate their activity between habitat restoration and reforestation by collecting and classifying seeds, maintaining the tree nursery and planting of native trees, removal of blackberry plants and other invasive non-native weed species and working in the market garden, planting and maintaining a range of crops. Volunteers also get involved in the community programme, a collaboration with local landowners for reforestation using native species of coffee.
You will have a guided hike throughout the reserve and nearby areas to learn about biodiversity themes, natural history and ecology as the emphasis is on volunteer education as much as conservation. The volunteers also enjoy regular excursions to different places on the island, including the beach.
The project couldn’t exist without volunteers. It is part of an ongoing campaign to reclaim the islands from non-native species, reintroducing native flora that maintains the natural balance in Galapagos and it currently would not have access to state funding or local volunteer resource.
It is an important part of the plan to develop more sustainable solutions in local agriculture, which has multiple benefits to the islanders.
My fondest memory will be just being in such a beautiful place surrounded by so many amazing people, my family, other volunteers, tourists and locals! To be honest there are too many amazing memories to recount!, Teaching in Galapagos