Monday, April 21, 2014
Jatun Sacha Biological Reserve- Galápagos Islands from Stevee Chapman on Vimeo.
By Stevee Chapman
As the second most populated island in the Galápagos, San Cristobal is a popular stop for travelers who have made their way to Darwin’s famous islands.
However, between the 5,400 permanent residents and numerous tourists visiting the island each year, there are multiple opportunities for quarantine regulations to be ignored. This allows new species of plants and animals to be introduced to the island every day.
While the Galápagos has some of the highest percentages of biodiversity in the world, introduction of new species to the island can wreck havoc to the islands’ ecosystem. This poses an especially big problem because a very high percentage of species (80% of birds, 97% of reptiles, more than 30% of plants and more than 20% of marine life) are exclusive to the Galapagos, and can be found nowhere else on earth.
In fact, introduction of new species by humans is directly correlated with the drastic decrease, and in some cases extinction, of different geneses of the famous giant tortoises found throughout the islands.
Many of the exotic species that threaten the island’s flora and fauna begin their rapid takeover through agriculture in the highlands of San Cristobal. Yet the highlands, although an essential aspect of the island’s delicate eco-system, have been almost completely ignored by other conservation and government agencies.
Luckily for San Cristóbal, Ecuador’s Jatun Sacha Foundation has a biological reserve deep in the highlands where volunteers come to make a difference. With their hard work in different areas of conservation, such as reforestation, Jatun’s Sacha’s volunteers are revitalizing the island from the ground up.