Volunteer to make a difference to the future of the Galapagos
This is a small but very effective project that is the only one of its kind to work in cooperation with the national park authority.
Started by two brothers, the aim of the project is to clear non-native plants from large areas of land and re-plant using native species. In addition to returning the Galapagos to its natural state of beauty, the native plants provide the foodstuffs required to support the local fauna, in particular the tortoise and birds. Brambles are a huge problem, as they smother plant-life and prevent the giant tortoise from feeding. Clearing them provides more food for the tortoise, encouraging their breeding.
The project operates on a number of different areas of land owned by one family, but given the success of the project, it now works on additional locations including the national park, who supply the native plants to the project.
Typically volunteers work in the highlands, in open areas (not the forest). The work is hard and hot, but has the benefit of being amongst some fabulous scenery and the tortoise themselves are often close by, reminding volunteers of the purpose of their labours.
The project takes significant numbers of international volunteers, who stay in shared accommodation. It is suitable for gap year students, those wanting to visit the Galapagos and Ecuador, and all volunteers who have a passion for conservation and the Galapagos.
The role of volunteers is relatively simple, clearing away the unwanted vegetation with a machete, and replanting native species in cleared areas.
Mornings start with an early breakfast at the volunteer house, then a shared pick-up to the area being worked upon. Eduardo and Jose are well educated on the conservation issues and can provide Spanish speaking volunteers with a good insight to the conservation activities.
It is hard physical work, in high temperatures, but in a magnificent setting and based on an early start it offers volunteers time in the afternoon to enjoy the benefits of San Christobel, such as swimming with the sea lions off the beach, or going snorkelling.
The project couldn’t exist without volunteers. There is no state funding for workers and no opportunity for local volunteers. This project is part of an ongoing campaign to reclaim the islands from non-native species, reintroducing native flora that maintains the natural balance in Galapagos. The difference you make is very clear, as typically you can see the ‘before and after’ impression of the areas where they have worked.
My fondest memory will be just being in such a beautiful place surrounded by so many amazing people, my family, other volunteers, tourists and locals! To be honest there are too many amazing memories to recount!, Teaching in Galapagos