Ecological restoration in Baltra Island

Ecological restoration in Baltra Island

Ecological restoration in Baltra Island: development of a method of restoration of arid ecosystems applicable on a large scale PC-22-22

This project is currently Active

The Galapagos Verde 2050 program carries out ecological restoration using native and endemic key species for the ecosystem, on the island of Baltra, which has been heavily degraded by the presence of the US military base during World War II, introduced species and other human activities.

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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)...

Read More

Nicolas Velasco

Investigator

Nicolás has a great curiosity for plant species, their reproduction, ecology and how these disperse. Coming from Chile, started his career as an Agronomist studying the reproduction of fruiting...

Read More

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...

Read More

David Cardenas

Project 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...

Read More

Paúl Mayorga

Project 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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Project Details

What does the Galapagos Verde 2050 program do to restore key native and endemic species in Baltra?

Baltra is one of the islands in the archipelago that has suffered the most degradation due to its use as an air base for the US Army during World War II. Today, most of the original vegetation has disappeared and the island is marked by abandoned infrastructure, metal remains, and debris. Baltra is also the first place that tourists see when they arrive at the Galapagos Ecological Airport, located on this island. This is why GV2050 began efforts to reestablish the flora on this island starting in 2013, obtaining valuable results on the effectiveness of the use of water-saving technologies. In 2021, the relatively undegraded North Seymour Island was used as a reference ecosystem to generate restoration targets for Baltra. For this, Vegetation of woody species and cacti in North Seymour was assessed, resulting in a list of 15 priority species and target densities for Baltra. With the information collected, this project hopes to contribute to the conservation of Baltra through the development of a restoration method for arid ecosystems applicable on a large scale in sites with different uses.


gv2050 figura1 baltra707x466
Ecological restoration in Baltra. Cacti growing amidst human impact. Photo: Joshua Sail

 

What tools does the Green Galapagos 2050 program use for the ecological restoration of key species on Baltra Island?

One of the important limitations in the Galapagos Islands is the availability of fresh water, so it is necessary to optimize its use using water-saving technologies. The GV2050 program uses the following water-saving technologies that are widely used and proven in other parts of the world for their effectiveness: Groasis Waterboxx®, Cocoon, Growboxx®, Hydrogel and Biochar.

Groasis Waterboxx®. It is a technology that collects rainwater, storing it to provide it through a constant supply of water to the plant, allowing it to develop better.
Information on the use of this technology
Cocoon biodegradable boxes. With functions similar to Groasis Waterboxx®, but made of biodegradable material that does not need to be removed at the end of its use.
The video shows how Cocoon technology is used in other ecological restoration projects 
Growboxx®. Also developed by Groasis, made of biodegradable material, it has a hole in the center where the plant to be restored is planted and four holes in the lid where seeds can be germinated hydroponically.
More information on how this technology is used 
Hydrogel. They are gels of polymeric materials that allow the retention of water in the soil to benefit the vegetation present on the site.
The benefits of hydrogel as a water saving technology
gv2050 espaniola figura2

Water saving technologies used in the GV2050 program. a) Groasis Waterboxx®, b) Cocoon, c) Groasis Growboxx®, d) Hydrogel powder

In what phases is the project timeline divided?

gv2050 figura3 baltra707x500General map of the study sites where large-scale ecological restoration projects are developed in Baltra,
divided by the different phases of ecological restoration within the GV2050 program.

 

  • Phase 1: It began in July 2013 and was successfully completed in July 2017. Approximately 3,300 plants of 11 different species were planted in six locations on the island.

More information about Phase 1 in Baltra: 

  • Phase 2: It began in August 2017 and will run until August 2027. So far 5,200 plants have been planted and one additional species and site have been added.
  • Phase 3: The last and most extensive phase of the program (2027-2050) will continue with the restoration of the selected species in Baltra until an ecosystem similar to that of North Seymour is obtained.

 

The main objective of the project is to contribute to the conservation of degraded ecosystems, through the development of a restoration method for arid ecosystems applicable on a large scale in sites with different uses.

The specific objectives of our project are:

  • Evaluate the ecosystem structure of North Seymour as a reference ecosystem to guide the ecological conditions expected to be achieved on Baltra Island as a result of the ecological restoration process.
  • Evaluate the efficiency of water-saving technologies in five study sites in Baltra as a mechanism for large-scale restoration and a new experimental design.
  • Assess the woody plant community by establishing plots in not impacted natural areas of Baltra Island to compare with the North Seymour reference community along with edaphic characteristics of the two islands.
  • Consolidate an action plan for the ecological restoration of arid ecosystems in large areas.

Our results

What results have we obtained from the ecological restoration of key species on Baltra Island?

A protocol for the restoration of ecosystems in arid islands has been designed, using Baltra as an example, where we have planted more than 4,000 plants of 12 different species. Currently, the project is developed in three hectares, it has created a corridor and an ecological garden in agreement with the ECOGAL Ecological Airport. As of August 2022, a total of 6,400 individuals of 12 key species for the ecosystem have been planted in 8 different sites on Baltra Island.

gv2050 iguana baltra 2022Land iguana under the shade of Bursera malacophylla and cactus fruit. Photo: Joshua Vela

 

We have also analyzed data collected in the field and, as a result, two manuscripts published in internationally recognized scientific journals have been generated.
Overall, our findings suggest that water-saving technologies are not always universally applicable, but may increase seedling survival and growth rate under certain conditions, providing in some circumstances a useful tool to improve breeding results of the restoration of rare plants of arid ecosystems.
Efficacy of water-saving technologies during the early stages of restoration of endemic Opuntia cacti in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Would you like to know about the results obtained by the Galapagos Verde 2050 program in 2021?

Watch the following video:


Would you like to know what awards the Green Galapagos 2050 initiative has won?

A) Green Latin America Awards

The GV2050 initiative was a finalist in the fifth edition (2018) of the Latin America Green Award and obtained THIRD PLACE in the “Water” category among 2,733 projects. Additionally, Galapagos Verde 2050 was awarded the Directv PROTAGONISTAS award "for having been one of the most outstanding stories, for the clarity of its purpose, its impact, its legacy and its ability to inspire positive change for the region and for the planet”.
More information about Galapagos Verde - Summary Prizes:
Read more about the success and Green Latin America Awards for the GV2050 (Blog):

Galapagos Project Finalist of the Green Latinamerican Awards 2018

B) DirecTV protagonist Awards and inspiring stories:

Watch video (we can cut the section GV2050):(we can cut the section GV2050):
Watch inspiring women video
Inspirational stories in Galapagos, Mexico, Chile:

 

Keywords: Baltra, arid ecosystem, water saving, ecological restoration, water scarcity, threatened species, Groasis Waterboxx®, Hydrogel, Cocoon

Bibliographical References

 

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

© 2022 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.