THE FIRST STEP IS TAKEN TO RESTORE THE ECOLOGY OF FLOREANA


Introduced goat

Source: Galapagos National Park

Floreana, with 173 square kilometres of area, is the smallest island and the one with the smallest population but also one of the most altered given it was the first island to be colonised and to have a permanent population.

These first human settlers brought with them domestic animals which, due to a fluctuating human population, soon reproduced and invaded virtually all the island, degrading its ecosystems as these invasive species competed with the native and endemic species for food, killed their young and eggs, eroded the soil and reduced vegetation cover. These invasive species are responsible for the extinction of one species (Sicyos villosa). The giant tortoises of Floreana were also hunted by humans who used them as food.

Last December, the Galapagos National Park started an ambitious project with the objective of restoring the ecology of Floreana in the medium to long term. The first part of "Project Floreana" is to eradicate some introduced vertebrates such as goats and donkeys so as to stop the degradation of the vegetation and allow some of the native and endemic plant species to recover e.g. Lecocarpus pinnatifidus, Scalesia affinis, Scalesia villosa, Cordia leucophyctis, Tiquilia fusca, Opuntia megasperma var. megasperma, Croton scouleri, Linux cratericota y Limpia salicifolia.

Thanks to the experience gained by the team during Project Isabela, 98% of the donkeys and goats were eradicated in 22 days. The remaining 2% will follow soon. It is expected that in 3 years the benefits to the ecosystem (including the local community) will be seen. Due to the elimination of invasive species, the endemic flora and fauna is expected to increase and repopulate those areas previously destroyed.