Connecting with Nature

 

Programme background    

Urbanisation and human activity are key threats to the wildlife and ecosystems of Galapagos. Over 30,000 people now live on the Islands, and around 40% are under 15 years old. Research shows that people who connect with nature as children develop stronger conservation and sustainability values, and are more likely to protect nature when they grow up. The young people of Galapagos are important for building a culture of sustainable living and environmental awareness. However, most families live in towns and the Galapagos National Park (GNP) is not easily accessible for young people from urban zones due to both physical and financial constraints.

Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) has developed our Connecting with Nature programme to ensure more young people have the chance to get out and experience the natural world around them. We provide quality extra-curricular environmental education opportunities, and support teachers and their classes with engaging outreach sessions in the field.

Through our Santa Cruz based Outreach Coordinator, Anne Guezou, San Cristobal based Oceans Outreach Coordinator, Leidy Apolo, at the Galapagos Science Center (GSC), and in collaboration with Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and Galapagos National Park (GNP), GCT is able to enable these opportunities at different stages throughout a young person’s life (from primary to undergraduate students) to ensure they can experience their Island’s incredible biodiversity. Although our primary target audience is young people, we aim to bring wider community benefits by engaging families too.

Engagement pathway diagram developed by Galapagos Conservation Trust ©

Engagement pathway diagram developed by Galapagos Conservation Trust ©

We aim to provide frequent and varied opportunities that connect young people with the unique ecosystems and wildlife on their doorstep, whilst educating them on key conservation issues. By offering a range of activities and support from an early age we aim to solidify long-lasting connections to nature, whilst encouraging greater interest in conservation careers or higher education courses in marine science, ultimately building in-country capacity in these areas.

Programme Goals and Projects within the Connecting with Nature Programme

Goal 1: To improve accessibility to nature and the Galapagos National Park for Galapagos families. (AWARE & ENGAGE)

Goal 2: To support teachers to enable their classes to connect with nature. (AWARE & ENGAGE)

Goal 3: To provide hands-on extracurricular environmental education opportunities for young people to engage directly with conserving their environment. (ENGAGE & PRO-ACTIVE)

Goal 4: To develop and promote citizen science projects for local people to get involved in scientific data collection and analysis.

Goal 5: To develop outreach practitioners in Galapagos by supporting training and the sharing of resources and learnings to maximise engagement with conservation and behaviour change for sustainability.

Goal 6: To improve communication channels between conservation stakeholders and local communities to increase the impact of outreach projects.

Read more about our individual projects which are part of our wider Connecting with Nature programme on our blog.

Discovering Galapagos

Discovering Galapagos is an interactive, bilingual educational resource. It uses case studies from Galapagos for teaching about globally-relevant conservation issues. It is freely available to students, teachers, parents and the general public.

Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos

Our outreach work spans across multiple programmes and is a major element of our Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos programme, a £1.5 million multi-year project, which will feed into network looking to tackle plastic pollution across the Eastern Pacific region. Read more about the individual projects which are part of our wider Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos programme on our blog. The project is split into three streams, physical, biological and human.

To find out more about the programme, please visit our blog for programme updates.  

How you can help

Help us inspire even more young people and donate to this project today or sign up as a GCT member. Becoming a regular giver helps us to plan ahead and make long-term decisions to protect the Galapagos Islands with steady income we can rely on.

Connecting with nature case studies

 

Goal 2: To support teachers to enable their classes to connect with nature. (AWARE & ENGAGE)

Anne is an experienced educator and scientist, and regularly supports the GNP’s outreach initiatives with students and teachers. For example, the GNP’s ‘Fortalecimiento curricular’ (‘Curriculum strengthening’) programme supports schoolteachers with practical, experiential learning sessions for their classes. Upon request, Anne delivers sessions with students aged 4-11 years old, which range in topic from giant tortoise ecology with GTMEP to botany.

Galapagos giant tortoise outreach © Anne Guezou

Goal 4: To develop and promote citizen science projects for local people to get involved in scientific data collection and analysis.

Through our collaboration with EPI, we support the Mola Mola club, a weekly ecology club for engaged 14-18 year olds with a core membership of around 20 students. The students take part in a range of extracurricular activities and citizen science initiatives, including an eight-week microplastic survey on Tortuga Bay beach, Santa Cruz (students are trained on how to survey for microplastics and supervised by Anne). The samples collected inform the biological impacts research for our Plastics Pollution Free Galapagos programme, offering the opportunity for young people to contribute directly to an important baseline risk assessment for Galapagos’ wildlife while learning new field skills.

Young Galapagos students involved in a microplastics survey © Anne Guezou

Goal 6: To improve communication channels between conservation stakeholders and local communities to increase the impact of outreach projects.

Together with the Galapagos Science Center, we have enabled regular community outreach of conservation projects, including via events and radio shows. For example, ‘Shark Day’ (Dia del Tiburón), an annual event open to the whole San Cristobal community, connects locals with the importance of shark conservation and the incredible array of sharks found in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Moreover, on the first Saturday of each month, Leidy delivers family events on Playa Mann (the beach outside the GSC) with fun educational activities, each themed around a different marine species or conservation issue. Through a volunteer programme we support called ‘Join Science’, Galapagueño undergraduate students deliver weekly radio shows and ‘Coloquios’ (small community presentations) at the GSC to communicate research findings.

2019 Shark Day © Galapagos Science Center