Paúl Mayorga-CDF

Restoration in urban and rural areas in Galapagos

Active since 2013

While a mere 3% of the Galapagos Islands are home to people, our presence in this small fraction of the archipelago has put the native vegetation at risk. Our restoration program in urban and rural areas engages the local community in conservation and restoration efforts to secure the long-term health of these unique ecosystems.

Paúl Mayorga-CDF

The challenge & why it matters

In recent decades, a surge in both tourists and residents has led to increased pressure on Galapagos’ natural resources and urban and rural settlement expansion. This is particularly noticeable on the four inhabited islands: Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Isabela, and Floreana. With more people comes greater demand for space, intensified agriculture, expanded infrastructure, increased raw material requirements, greater need of public services and heightened waste production. Two key issues are significantly impacting the islands' biodiversity:

Urban expansion

The rapid and unplanned growth of urban settlements has resulted in the disorganized expansion of populated centers , the introduction of alien plants and the displacement of native and endemic flora.

Agricultural Transformation

Native vegetation in rural areas is being replaced with low-diversity monocultures. Moreover, abandoned farmlands act as incubators for invasive species.

Restoring such degraded ecosystems is possible, but crucial knowledge gaps remain. We need to better understand the most suitable plant species that can facilitate recovery, and how aid technologies could increase the survivorship of planted species in each unique island context.

The Charles Darwin Foundation, through its team of ecological restoration professionals, Galapagos Verde 2050, aims to address these knowledge gaps to restore degraded ecosystems of inhabited islands and find more sustainable ways to balance human activities while safeguarding the islands' biodiversity.

Program objectives

  • Raise awareness of the need to recover native and endemic plant species in towns, especially those that are threatened (vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered), according to the IUCN Red List.
  • Engage the local community through educational and experiential initiatives on the importance of integrating native and endemic plants in public spaces to promote biodiversity conservation while providing urban spaces adequate for human recreation.
  • Restore degraded ecosystems on agricultural farms using native and endemic plant species, and evaluate the most efficient water-saving technologies for each environment.
  • Enhance ecosystem services in degraded rural environments, providing benefits both to farmers and biodiversity.
Paúl Mayorga-CDF

our impact

In Puerto Ayora, the largest town on Santa Cruz Island, our restoration specialists are leading a campaign to raise awareness and encourage the community to plant the endangered plant Scalesia affinis, native to this specific area of the Island.

To date, we’ve successfully planted 450 specimens of Scalesia affinis subsp. brachyloba, thereby boosting the population by an impressive 542.86% from the original count of 70 in 2014. This surpasses our goal of sextupling the population, showcasing our community's dedication. However, to fully integrate the species into Puerto Ayora's urban ecosystems, ongoing and active participation from all is crucial.

To this end the CDF works with communities of urban areas of the Islands of Floreana, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, to create gardens with endemic and native plant species and in doing so, promotes the conservation of these species that are typical of these Islands.

The program's efforts to incorporate native plants into agricultural systems are a win-win for farmers and the environment. Native plants can help to improve soil quality, reduce erosion, provide shade, foster bird nesting and feeding grounds, sequester carbon and attract pollinators.

To date, we've partnered with 15 farms in Floreana, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz islands. Through these partnerships, the Charles Darwin Foundation has established more than 2,300 plants of 20 native and endemic species into agricultural systems, mostly in coffee plantations. The opportunity to scale and accelerate our impact across more farms is clear.

The program’s new Shade House, remodeled in 2023 and located at the heart of the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island, is an educational space inviting CDF visitors to learn more about endemic and native species of the region, ecological restoration initiatives and the GV2050 Program. Here we host tourist visits and activities with local students year round, including CDF’s annual Open House, held during the month of July.

Carlos Espinosa-CDF
Patricia Jaramillo-CDF
Carlos Espinosa-CDF
Carlos Espinosa-CDF
Paúl Mayorga-CDF
Paúl Mayorga-CDF
Patricia Jaramillo-CDF
Galapagos Verde 2050-CDF

About Galapagos Verde 2050 (GV2050)

The GV2050 program has a multidisciplinary research team that brings together professionals from various fields, including ecologists, conservation biologists, biotechnologist, botanical taxonomists, and environmental engineers.

We have worked with the Galapagos National Park Directorate for more than a decade, leveraging both institutions' scientific expertise and practical knowledge. This fosters a comprehensive approach that aligns scientific guidance with effective on-the-ground restoration efforts.

Galapagos Verde Casa Abierta
Rashid Cruz-CDF

Why you should support us

The Galapagos Islands are a unique and irreplaceable part of our planet cataloged as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. By supporting our urban and rural restoration program, you can help to ensure that these islands are conserved for future generations.

Here are some specific ways that your sponsorship can help:

  • Fund research projects developing new ways to restore degraded ecosystems.
  • Support educational programs that share the importance of conservation with the Galapagos people.
  • Purchase equipment and materials needed for restoration efforts.
  • Help cover the costs of seed collection, plant care, and planting expeditions.
  • Cover the travel and transportation costs for researchers and volunteers.

Jaramillo, P., Shepherd, J. D. and Heleno, R. (2021) Guía de Semillas y Propágulos de

Galápagos. Edited by P. Jaramillo, J. D. Shepherd, and R. Heleno. Puerto Ayora-Isla Santa Cruz. 91 pp.

Jaramillo, P. et al. (2015) ‘Galapagos Verde 2050: An opportunity to restore degraded ecosystems and promote sustainable agriculture in the Archipelago’, in GNPD et al. (eds) Galapagos Report 2013-2014. Puerto Ayora, Galápagos, Ecuador, pp. 133–143.

Jaramillo. P. (2009) ‘Scalesia affinis , “ la Scalesia de Puerto Ayora ” casi extinta en Santa Cruz’, El Colono, p. 7.

Jaramillo, P., Tapia, W., Negoita, L., Plunkett, E., Guerrero, M., Mayorga, P., & Gibbs, J. P. (2020). El Proyecto Galápagos Verde 2050 (Volumen 1)(P. Paramillo, W. Tapia, & J. P. Gibbs (eds.). 130 pp.

Atkinson, R., Jaramillo, P. and Tapia, W. (2009) ‘Establishing a new population of Scalesia affinis , a threatened endemic shrub , on Santa Cruz Island , Galapagos , Ecuador’, Conservation Evidence, 6, pp. 42–47.

Plunkett, E., Negoita, L., Velasco, N., Sevilla, C., & Jaramillo, P. (2023). Enhancing restoration success of rare xeric plants through water-saving technologies: A case study of Scalesia affinis ssp. affinis in the Galapagos Islands. PeerJ, 11(e16367), 1–20. http://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.16367

Jaramillo, P., Tapia, W. and Tye, A. (2018) ‘Scalesia affinis Hook. f.’, in Araujo, P. et al. (eds) Atlas de Galápagos, Ecuador: Especies Nativas e Invasoras. Quito-Ecuador: FCD y WWF-Ecuador., pp. 56–57.

Andres Cruz

Protect Galapagos, Impact the World

The impact you make on this small ecosystem of enormous biodiversity is part of a larger footprint you are leaving for the world's future. Join us on our mission to safeguard one of our planet’s most important natural treasures through science and conservation action by making a donation today. Thank you for making an impact with us.