Tequila Sunrise? Or Floreana Sunrise?
Carolina Torres, International Legal and Administrative Manager at GCT partner Island Conservation, reflects on how the Floreana project signals hope for a future where people and nature can thrive together.
Imagine yourself, at the break of dawn, sitting at the highest point of one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world and of the Galapagos Archipelago. Very few people will have in their lifetime the opportunity to see and feel nature as alive as I did one day while sitting on the edge of Mount Allieri.
It was on that morning that I saw one of the most enlightening dawns of my life. Perhaps this dawn in and of itself was not that astonishing, but it was brought together with my hopes of working for the conservation of the Galapagos islands, and especially Floreana island and its people; this hope was present in each and every cell of my body. If you think a Tequila Sunrise makes you feel good, imagine ten times that. Because of the meaning it held for me and for the future of Galapagos, this Floreana sunrise affected me in such a deep and beautiful way, that without a doubt, a Tequila Sunrise simply could not compare.
I work in Galapagos to support ecosystem restoration and prevent extinction. Floreana and its residents have welcomed me with affection and have changed the way I see the world. On this island and primarily in its community, you can vividly feel the basic values that have been lost in the great cities of the world and that have gradually denatured the essence of the human being.
Perhaps the connection that the people living on the island have with nature, the remote geography, the enchanting landscapes, the unique animals that inhabit it, or their tireless work has made this community of about 140 people, to me, one of the last places in the world where you can still feel human. Values such as solidarity, strength and temperance permeate the daily life of the community.
Solidarity is one of the characteristics that permeates the daily life of Floreana. There is always someone reaching out to give you an orange – by the way, the most delicious I have ever tasted – in the overwhelming heat.
The people who live on Floreana bring deep meaning to the work we do on the island. Though our project has a clear environmental focus, as an ecological restoration project to remove invasive species – rodents and feral cats – and to subsequently reintroduce locally extinct species, the human well-being element is strong. Invasive species not only alter the native ecosystem, but also feast on crops. Biodiversity and economy are both at risk on Floreana because of invasive species.
The project to restore the island gives us hope that the people of Floreana will have a better future. We hope that the community will be able to thrive on an island free of introduced predators, and that Floreana can prove its resiliency and regain the strength it needs to provide future generations of Galapagos and of the world.
This is why after my days of work in Floreana, I can definitely say that I prefer a “Floreana Sunrise” to a “Tequila Sunrise” to celebrate this story of hope for humanity.
New! Floreana T-shirts
Check out our brand new designs celebrating the Restoring Floreana project, one of the most important island rewilding projects in the world. Our T-shirts and sweaters feature Lisa Brown’s beautiful illustrations of species including the Floreana giant tortoise, little vermilion flycatcher and Floreana mockingbird.
This article originally appeared on the Island Conservation blog, and is reproduced with their kind permission. Island Conservation is one of our key partners in the Restoring Floreana project, along with the Galapagos National Park Directorate, executing organisation Fundación Jocotoco, Charles Darwin Foundation, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and others.
Once home to some of the most iconic wildlife in Galapagos, Floreana has been devastated by invasive species. We are supporting a hugely ambitious project to restore the island to its former glory.