Ecological restoration in Special Use sites: Evaluation of diversity in natural and intervened areas (Galapagos Verde 2050).

Ecological restoration in Special Use sites: Evaluation of diversity in natural and intervened areas (Galapagos Verde 2050).

 Ecological restoration in Special Use sites: Evaluation of diversity in natural and intervened areas (Galapagos Verde 2050).

This project is currently Active

“Galápagos Verde 2050" is a program implemented by the Charles Darwin Foundation with the support of the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, comprising multi-institutional collaboration components. From 2013 until 2021 it was managed as a project with two components: Ecological Restoration and Sustainable Agriculture, obtaining successful results especially in relation to cost-benefit analysis and the effectiveness of the use of water-saving technologies both in ecological restoration processes on various islands, and in improving the productivity of several short-cycle crops.

However, as of 2022, due to the need to enter a new phase, in which the program will move from experimentation to the implementation of ecological restoration activities on a larger scale, it was transformed into the Galápagos Verde 2050 program, which is composed of seven research projects focused on the ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems on seven different islands. The main objective of the program is to contribute with pure and applied research for the development of an adaptive management model that will guarantee the conservation of the natural capital of Galapagos and contribute to the well-being of its human population.

Our Research Team

Patricia Jaramillo Díaz

Principal Investigator

Patricia is an Ecuadorian researcher who came to Galapagos in 1996 to work on her PhD thesis about the “human impact on native, endemic and introduced flora on the Galapagos Islands” and since...

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David Cevallos

Investigator

David is interested on working on the conservation and ecological restoration of sensitive areas within the islands, and a great opportunity is being part of the Galapagos Verde 2050 (GV2050)...

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Anna Calle

Investigator

Anna has always been fascinated by the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon rainforest. Her desire to protect these unique ecosystems motivated her to pursue a Bachelor of Science in...

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Pavel Enríquez-Moncayo

Project Assistant

Pavel has always admired the people behind the great scientific discoveries both in his home, the Galapagos, as well as worldwide. Further, growing up in the "Enchanted Islands" allowed him to...

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Paúl Mayorga

Field Assistant

I was born and raised in these "Enchanted Islands", which meant from a young age I was naturally immersed in the conservation of the place where I live. Growing up with relatively little technology...

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David Cardenas

Field Assistant

David has always liked to explore nature, its richness, and its importance as a source of life. His passion for protecting and conserving nature motivated him to study Environmental Biotechnology at...

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Maira Gómez

Field Assistant

Maira Gómez is a person who likes nature since her love for plants started in her childhood. She arrived to the Galapagos Islands when she was 18 and discovered a different way of living. She was...

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Project Details

The Galápagos Verde 2050 program consists of three phases that are being developed on eight islands: Santa Cruz, Española, Isabela, Baltra, Floreana, Santiago, Plaza Sur, and San Cristóbal. These are projects that are aimed at the ecological restoration of special use areas (Baltra, Floreana and San Cristóbal), rural restoration (Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Floreana), urban restoration (Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal and Floreana), and recovery of endangered species (Santa Cruz, Española, Isabela, Baltra, Santiago and Plaza Sur).

 

See video with results of the GV2050 project in 2021
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Figure 1. General map of the GV2050 program showing the islands where actions aimed at the ecological restoration of the sites are being carried out.

Phases of the Program

Phase 1: It commenced in July 2014 and was successfully completed in July 2017. Restoration activities included: Floreana, Baltra, Plaza Sur (South Plaza) and Santa Cruz. Pilot experiments on sustainable agricultural practices were conducted on Santa Cruz and Floreana. This phase has concluded, and the pilot results have informed the next phases of the projects.
Phase 2: It commenced in August 2017 and will continue until July 2027. Ecological restoration activities began in Floreana, Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Plaza Sur, Baltra, Isabela Norte and Española Island. Additionally, sustainable agriculture activities began on the islands of Floreana, San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz. As of winter 2022, sustainable agricultural projects have been completed, while rural ecological restoration actions using native and endemic plants continue.
Phase 3: The last and most extensive phase of the program will initiate in August 2027 and will be completed in December 2050. Restoration activities will take place on Santa Cruz, Isabela, Floreana, San Cristóbal, Santiago, Baltra, Plaza Sur and Española Island.

Water Saving Technologies and Tools for Ecological Restoration

A large percentage of the territory of the Galapagos Islands is arid. Periods of drought and lack of freshwater supply create difficulties for the implementation of ecological restoration processes. To address these water-related challenges, GV2050 resorts to the use of recently developed water-saving technologies and other tools, such as Groasis Waterboxx® (Waterboxx), Groasis Growboxx®, Cocoon, Hydrogel and BioChar, which have been successfully used around the world to increase the survival and growth of species native to arid environments. The use of these technologies can accelerate ecological restoration efforts and reduce irrigation costs.

Groasis Waterboxx Technology® consists of a polypropylene reservoir that collects and retains water, supplied manually or obtained from rainfall. The water passes through a wick at the base of the box into the area surrounding the plant's roots, which will allow a constant supply of water to the plant. Waterboxx enables accelerated growth and stimulates vertical growth of the main root, increasing the plant's chances of survival. This technology is removed once the plant has developed enough to survive on its own. This system can be reused up to 10 times.

Figure2 GroasisWaterboxxgv2050

Figure 2. Groasis Waterboxx Technology ®.

 

See examples about Groasis technology in Galápagos

Cocoon biodegradable boxes function similarly to the Groasis Waterboxx technology, however, they are made of biodegradable material and are designed to remain in place and decompose over time. They are not designed to collect rainwater. This technology has been less successful in experiments in the archipelago on some species. In extremely arid terrain such as Baltra, it slows down the degradation process.

Figure 3.  Cocoon Technology

Growboxx Technology, also produced by Groasis, was introduced to the project in October 2020. It is a square box with a hole in the center, made of recycled paper pulp and can be used for a one-time planting. It is placed around a sapling, it has 4 small holes in the lid where soil and seeds can be placed to germinate hydroponically in the container's stored water. While the small "planters" in the lid are not applicable to our tree and woody shrub restoration projects, they can serve as rainwater collectors to supplement the water supplied at planting and can therefore be more effective in ecological sites in Galapagos.


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Figure 4. Growboxx Technology.

Hydrogel, is a compound of insoluble polymers possessing gel-forming abilities with the potential for water retention in the soil. Hydrogel products are composed of a group of polymeric materials (potassium polyacrylate) whose hydrophilic structure makes it possible to retain large amounts of water.
Hydrogel is also used in combination with technologies that include physical water reservoirs. More information on water-saving technologies and the protocols for their installation and use are available in the Processes and Technologies Manual of the Galápagos Verde 2050 project.

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Figure 5. Hidrogel Technology in powder and gel once it has been mixed with water. Photo: Juan Manuel

BioChar, is a product of pyrolysis from agricultural or forest biomass under oxygen-limited conditions. The use of this technology can improve water retention and has demonstrated increased plant survival and growth at sites in other parts of the world. It has the added benefit of providing long-term storage of carbon in the soil. This would indicate that Biochar stimulates microbial activities, especially in soils with low fertility. This proposes that soils in arid Galapagos environments may not need to be "loaded" with compost or other organic matter.

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Figure 6. Biochar Technology. Photo: Juan Manuel García

Our main goal is to contribute to the conservation of the Galapagos terrestrial ecosystems and to the well-being of the local population, through the ecological restoration of degraded areas and the development of sustainable agricultural practices.

The specific objectives of our project are:

 

  • Contribute to the restoration of degraded ecosystems with the goal of recovering and/or maintaining their ability of generating services for the population.
  • Contribute to the restoration of endangered plant species populations.
  • Contribute to the control and/or eradication of invasive species in high ecological value areas, both in natural and rural areas.
  • Apply water-saving technologies to accelerate the recovery process of native and endemic flora of the archipelago with slow natural growth.
  • Reduce the risk of ingression of exotic species through sustainable agriculture production by contributing to the local sourcing.
  • Execute experiments to test seed viability and germination for key species for several ecosystems on the islands.

Our results

Ecological restoration

Floreana Island The black granite mine, a dry forest that was completely altered, in only 3 years it was restored to 100% of its historical diversity of endemic species. This makes it an example of a successful model of ecological restoration.

Figure 7. Images taken in August 2014 (left) and August 2017 (right) at the black granite mine (Floreana). Photos by Patricia Jaramillo Díaz

Baltra Island: We have designed a protocol for the restoration of ecosystems in arid islands, using Baltra as an example, where we have planted more than 4000 plants of 12 different species. Currently, the project is in development on three hectares, and has created a corridor and an ecological garden in agreement with the ECOGAL Ecological Airport..

Figure 8. Land iguana under the shade of Bursera malacophylla and cactus fruit. Photo: Joshua Vela.
Video about first phase working on Baltra.

South Plaza Island: In just three years, the population of Opuntia echios var. echios has tripled. After being a keystone species in the ecosystem and the main food source for land iguanas, the species declined in population by at least 60% in the last century.

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Figure 9. Ecological restoration of South Plaza Island through replanting of Opuntia echios var. Echios. Team GV2050.
Figure10 gv2050 2022b
Figure 10. Evidence of population reduction of Opuntia echios var. echios on South Plaza Island prior to the arrival of GV2050. Photographic sequence from 1967-2014 and actions carried out to recover the species (2016).

Santa Cruz Island: Scalesia affinis is another species that has declined significantly during the last century, but the efforts of GV2050 to restore its population have made it possible that the number of individuals increased by 35%. In addition to this, we have worked with several institutions to create ecological gardens using S. affinis. On top of that, a book was published, which was created to promote the planting of native and endemic plants in the gardens of the four populated islands..

 

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Figure 11. Map of the population distribution of Scalesia affinis in the urban area (Puerto Ayora) of Santa Cruz Island.
See videos about Scalesia affinis

See more about first work with Galvezia leucantha with volunteers and GV2050 team (Blog):
Taking care of very important baby plants

Isabela Island: GV2050 has succeeded in increasing the population of Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha by approximately 80%, and we are producing enough seedlings to increase its population fivefold over the next year..

Figura12gv2050
Figure 12. Map of the population distribution of Galvezia leucantha subsp. leucantha in the north of Isabela Island
See video about Galvezia leucantha

 

Española Island: We have developed a method for asexual reproduction of Opuntia megasperma var. orientalis and since 2017 we are testing ex situ germination trials using turtle droppings seeds. In addition, we have germinated enough L. lecocarpoides in the laboratory that we have attained a seed bank which allows us to advance in the studies to understand the germination mechanism of this plant and recover its species.

Figura25en
Figure 13. Map of the population distribution of Opuntia megasperma var. orientalis and Lecocarpus lecocarpoides on Española Island.

Read more about the success and experiences of scientists and visitors involved in this research project (Blogs):

Galápagos en el año 2050: una visión desde Galápagos Verde 2050
Galapagos Verde 2050, Success and Adaptation

Education and science communication

In addition to scientific research, Galápagos Verde 2050 is connected to the local community through a variety of activities. Examples include tools such as our publication of the first trilingual book that encourages the creation of ecological gardens using endemic and native Galapagos plants (Siémbrame en tu Jardín), the book “The Galápagos Verde 2050 Project'' communicates and explains the mission and vision of the project over time and details the actions being developed for the ecological restoration of the archipelago, and the book “Guide to Galapagos Seeds and Propagules'' is useful when identifying all the seeds of native and endemic plants of Galapagos. In addition, we have organized workshops, conferences and various outreach activities at local, national and international levels..

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Figure 14. Books published by Galápagos Verde 2050 to inform and educate the general public about the flora of Galapagos and the progress of the program.
See videos about Organization and structure book

 

To convey with the community the importance of the endemic and native flora of Galapagos, we have developed illustrations of the most characteristic plants of the project study sites or those that are in danger of extinction, such as Scalesia affinis. With these illustrations we have been able to design promotional material to generate a sense of community ownership of the GV2050 program and to raise awareness of the importance of recovering endangered species in the archipelago. These illustrations have been distributed among the population on various occasions through: Open houses, expeditions, new plantings with the community, commemorative days (such as Women's Day), etc.

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Figure 15. Illustrations of endemic and native Galapagos plants that are planted during the development of urban restoration and endangered species recovery projects.

 

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Figure16. Promotional material for the Galápagos Verde 2050 program that includes 8 models of face masks, 8 models of T-shirts, 4 models of buffs and 1 model of bag to buy at the supermarket.
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Figure 17. GV2050 community events and distribution of promotional materials

 

 

Awards Verde Latinoamericano
The GV2050 initiative was a finalist in the fifth edition (2018) of the Awards Verde Latinoamericano and won THIRD PLACE in the "Water" category out of 2733 projects. Additionally, Galápagos Verde 2050 was awarded the Direct TV PROTAGONISTS award "For having been one of the most outstanding stories, the clarity of its purpose, its impact, its legacy and its ability to inspire positive change for the region and for the planet" Galapagos Project Finalist of the Green Latinamerican Awards 2018

 

See Awards video about Galapagos Verde

 

Keywords: Galapagos, water saving, ecological restoration, water scarcity, threatened species, sustainable agricultural practices, Groasis, Hidrogel, Cocoon

Bibliographical References

  • Atkinson, R., Guézou, A. & Jaramillo, P. (2017). Siémbrame en tu Jardín - Kanpa sisapampapi tarpuway - Plant me in your Garden. Jardines nativos para la conservacion de Galapagos - Galapagos suyu kuskata kamankapak sisapampakuna - native gardens for the conservation of Galapagos. Segunda edición. Islas Galápagos-Ecuador, Fundación Charles Darwin.
  • Elisens, W.J. (1992). Genetic divergence in Galvezia (Scrophulariaceae): Evolutionary and biogeographic relationships among South American and Galapagos species. American Journal of Botany 79 (2):198-206.
  • Guzmán, B., Heleno, R., Nogales, M., Simbaña, W., Traveset, A. & Vargas, P. (2016). Evolutionary history of the endangered shrub snapdragon (Galvezia leucantha) of the Galapagos Islands. Diversity and Distributions:1-14.
  • Jaramillo, P. (2015). Final report on Year 1 from the Charles Darwin Foundation to COmON Foundation. Galápagos Verde 2050 Project
  • Jaramillo, P. (2015). Water-saving technology: the key to sustainable agriculture and horticulture in Galapagos to BESS Forest Club. 
  • Jaramillo, P., Jiménez, E., Cueva, P. & Ortiz, J. (2013). Baltra: un reto para la restauración ecológica de ecosistemas áridos. Jornadas Ecuatorianas de Biología. Universidad de Santa Elena.
  • Jaramillo, P. & Menendez, Y. (2017). Galápagos Verde 2050: Manejo de plataforma virtual, web y aplicación Android. Simposio Internacional del Proyecto Galápagos Verde 2050. Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz. Fundación Charles Darwin, pp 1-26.
  • Jaramillo, P., Ortiz, J., Jiménez, E. & Cueva, P. (2013). Restauración Ecológica: ¿Puede la implementación de nuevas tecnologías ayudar a la recuperación de las zonas húmedas de Galápagos?. Jornadas Ecuatorianas de Biología. Universidad de Santa Elena. 
  • Jaramillo, P. & Romero, L. (2017). Restauración ecológica de especies amenazadas en islas remotas. Resultados Fase 1 y siguientes pasos. Simposio Internacional del proyecto Galápagos Verde 2050. Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, 2017. Fundación Charles Darwin, pp 1-26.
  • Jaramillo, P. & Solís, M. (2017). Prácticas agrícolas y análisis costo-beneficio en Galápagos. Proyecto Galápagos Verde 2050. Simposio Internacional del Proyecto Galápagos Verde 2050. Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz. Fundación Charles Darwin, pp 1-26.
  • Jaramillo, P., Tapia, W. & Gibbs, J. (2017). Action Plan for the Ecological Restoration of Baltra and Plaza Sur Islands. 2:1-29
  • Jaramillo, P., Tapia, W., Romero, M.L. & Gibbs, J. (2017). Galápagos Verde 2050: Restauración ecológica de ecosistemas degradados y agricultura sostenible utilizando tecnologías ahorradoras de agua. Fundación Charles Darwin. Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz.
  • León-Yánez, S., Valencia, R., Pitman, N., Endara, L., Ulloa, C. & Navarrete, H. (2011). Libro rojo de las plantas endémicas del Ecuador. 2 da. Edición. Herbario QCA. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito
  • McMullen, C.K. (1999). Flowering plants of the Galapagos. Cornell University Press. Ithaca
  • Ortiz, J., Jaramillo, P., Jiménez, E. & Cueva, P. (2013). Agricultores y Tecnología: una alianza estratégica para la producción agrícola sostenible en la zona rural de Galápagos. In: Jornadas Ecuatorianas de Biología, Universidad de Santa Elena. 
  • Sulloway, F.J. & Noonan, K.M. (2015). Opuntia Cactus Loss in the Galapagos Islands, 1957-2014. Pérdida de cactus Opuntia en las Islas Galápagos, 1957-2014. 
  • Tapia, W., Flanagan, J., Cpbell & K., Jaramillo, P. (2014). Safeguarding the South Plaza Galapagos Land Iguana during Rodent Eradication using Brodifacoum. Paper presented at the IUCN SSC Iguana Specialist Group Meeting 2014: Galápagos Land and Marine Iguanas Workshop.
  • Tapia, W., Troya, A., Mora, M., Campbell, K., Jaramillo, P. & Quezada, G. (2013). Cactus e iguanas terrestres en Plaza Sur una cuestión de supervivencia. In: Jornadas Ecuatorianas de Biología, Universidad de Santa Elena. 
  • Tye, A. & Jager, H. (2000) Galvezia leucantha subsp porphyrantha (Scrophulariaceae) ; a new Shrub Snapdragon endemic to Santiago Island ; Galápagos ; Ecuador. Novon 10 (2):164-168
  • Vargas, P., Roselló, J.A., Oyama, R. & Güemes, J. (2004). Molecular evidence for naturalness of genera in the tribe Antirrhineae (Scrophulariaceae) and three independent evolutionary lineages from the New World and the Old. Plant Systematics and Evolution 249:151-172
  • Wiggins, I.L. & Porter, D.amM. (1971). Flora of the Galápagos Islands. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.

Current Donors

The ‘Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands’, in French ‘Fondacion Charles Darwin  pour les Iles Galapagos’, Association Internationale sans but lucrative (AISBL), has its registered office at Avenue Louise 54, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Trade Registry # 0409.359.103

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