On his first trip to Galapagos as CEO of Galapagos Conservation Trust, Ian Dunn will be writing regular entries on this blog. Be sure to check for updates as Ian shares his experiences observing first-hand the challenges facing Galapagos, the successes of conservation efforts and the wildlife and wild places that make the archipelago so famous…
There is a small community of about 170 people living on Floreana Island and the locals tell me that their lifestyle is very much how Galapagos was some 30-40 years ago – with just one settlement and 97% of the island falling within the National Park. In combination with Conservacion and Desarrollo, GCT has been helping the community to develop a sustainable approach to tourism, including how best to manage scarce water, energy and food resources. Solar panels, biomass boilers, water conserving utilities and services all help to reduce the environmental impact of both the community and of tourism. Phase 1 of the eco-tourism project has been completed, with the restaurants and hotels working in a co-operative manner to increase standards and keep as much as the value chain as possible on the islands.
I had the pleasure of spending time at the local school and hearing about the coastal and highland conservation experiences of the children. The school is decorated with Galapagos motifs, has a native garden tended by the children and a new water capture and supply system, all supported by GCT. In a formal ceremony in the evening, I had the opportunity to hand over the file of documents concerning the eco-tourism journey to date and capturing the achievements of the community. I was joined by most of the adults on the island and we discussed the benefits of the project so far and the potential for Phase 2, to which all those present were committed.
Subject to funding, Phase 2 will go beyond the immediate tourist contact points such as the lodgings and restaurants and embrace the wider sustainability agenda; growing more crops locally, capturing, treating and delivering potable water from the island rather than importing it, developing a network of trails to provide managed access to other parts of the island and extending the options for visitors. All agree that this should be done slowly and thoughtfully so as to not impinge too greatly on the island’s community.
If you would like to learn more about the Trust’s work on Floreana and how you can support Phase 2, please visit our main website savegalapagos.org