As one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet, it’s imperative that the biological integrity of the Galapagos Islands is preserved. The archipelago continues to play a vital role in the study of ecology through the research of its flora and fauna, and its value to natural science is immeasurable.
Eco-tourism plays a major part in raising awareness of the importance of the region. For those on a Galapagos holiday, understanding the mission of the conservancy set up to advance and support the islands’ biodiversity can offer some important insights.
The History of the Galapagos Conservancy (GC)
The GC was set up more than 25 years ago with the goal of “exclusively protecting the unique ecosystems and biological integrity of the Galapagos archipelago.” It is the only US-based organisation of its kind and works with numerous other agencies to fulfil its mantra of directed research, informed public policy, building a sustainable society and conservation management. It is also committed to supporting the current management of the islands (Galapagos National Park) to enhance and sustain their effectiveness.
How It Helps
The single-minded focus of the GC has enabled it to create an endowment funded by private entities, which is currently worth almost $5 million USD. The money is channelled towards technical resources, communications and projects that are specifically tailored to the conservation of the archipelago’s biodiversity.
The conservancy differs from other organisations in that, rather than increase the size of its own “footprint” through a physical presence in the islands, it focuses on collaborating with existing organisations with which its mission and vision aligns. By working behind the scenes, the conservancy is able to improve and increase the sustainability of measures that are already in place.
The Power of Partnerships
Along with the Government of Ecuador, key organisations and institutions that the GC has worked with include various NGOs, the Charles Darwin Research Station and the Galapagos National Park. After more than two decades, they have built a vast network of professionals to call on for various long- and short-term projects, and their own members of staff have wide-ranging and on-the-ground experience in the archipelago.
Since the organisation is incredibly targeted and agile, itâ€™s able to funnel financial, technical and research-based support with a greater sense of urgency than other agencies that may have a broader focus.
Looking to the Future
The GC has determined several areas of priority to which funding will be allocated over the next few years. These are:
â€¢Education for Sustainability
â€¢The Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative
â€¢Wildlife and Ecosystem Restoration
The conservancy accepts charitable donations via a number of channels, including memberships, gift memberships, gift donations, recurring donations, honour gifts, remembrance gifts, species adoption, merchandise and apparel. All proceeds are directed towards marine and terrestrial conservation programmes that are set up throughout the islands.
Note: the GC’s financials are completely transparent and undergo annual audits. Their Annual Reports are available for public scrutiny and can be downloaded from their website.
Pay it Forward On a Galapagos Holiday
For those fortunate enough to visit this incredible part of the world on a Galapagos holiday, the opportunity to assist a charitable conservation organisation like the GC is one way of securing the future of the habitat and wildlife of these irreplaceable islands.
Marissa Ellis-Snow is a freelance nature writer with a special interest in the unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. Marissa chooses the expert-led Galapagos holiday itineraries organised by Naturetrek, which have brought her unforgettable sightings of a wide range of wildlife in one of the most spectacular regions on Earth.
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