The Galápagos Islands is a hotspot for biodiversity. Unfortunately, the islands have suffered from deforestation, loss of plants and animals, and invasive species, which has taken a toll.
Leonardo DiCaprio is engaged in helping save the Islands and has, together with other conservationists, launched a new initiative to rewild the islands and hopefully restore their former natural beauty.
“When I travelled to the Galápagos Islands, I met with Paula Castaño and other environmental heroes in Ecuador working day in and day out to save one of the most irreplaceable places on the planet. I’m excited to share her team’s work and to support the longstanding effort to protect and restore these iconic islands. The environmental heroes that the planet needs are already here. Now we all must rise to the challenge and join them,” said Leonardo DiCaprio in a press release.
The $43 million Galápagos restoration project is a collaboration between Re:wild, the Galápagos National Park Directorate, Island Conservation, and local conservationists. One of the main undertakings will be to restore ecosystems across Floreana Island, home to 54 threatened species. The conservationists will reintroduce 13 species that had died out locally and start a pink Iguana breeding program. On top of that they will be taking protective measures to fight marine depletion due to tourism.
Restoration program could be used elsewhere
The team's long term goals are: to restore 30 of nearby waters, protect 250 globally threatened species from extinction, restore 25 of the islands in the Galápagos region, increase measures to protect and manage wildlife, create more groups of local conservationists and environmental groups and build up and boost the local economy with conservation projects. The project will also enforce stricter tourism control measures.
Veterinarian and biologist Paula A Castaño believes they can restore the habitats without completely eliminating tourism and that restoration programs like this one can be used on other islands across the planet as well. She said to The Guardian:
“Up to 97 percent of the land area of the Galápagos Islands comes under national park status. We are not trying to remove humans from the picture. We are trying to all work together to rewild these ecosystems, and support the community as well. They want to be able to continue to thrive together with nature."
“Time is running out for so many species, especially on islands where their small populations are vulnerable and threatened. We know how to prevent these extinctions and restore functional and thriving ecosystems — we have done it — but we need to replicate these successes, innovate and go to scale ... We need catalytic investments like the one announced today to replicate our successes in the Galápagos and elsewhere,” Castaño said to Mongabay.
Leonardo DiCaprio writes on twitter:
Projects like this one are what make the future come sooner!