The Galapagos needs little introduction as a global centre for biodiversity and conservation. Floreana is an island of just over 17,000 hectares in size, with less than 350 hectares set aside for human use (urban and agriculture). It is historically home to one of the highest concentrations of globally threatened species worldwide (55), including the endemic Medium Tree-Finch and the Floreana Flax. However, due predominately to the impacts of invasive species, the flora and fauna of the island is highly threatened, with both the Floreana Mockingbird and the Floreana Giant Tortoise now locally extinct.
This project aims to take an innovative approach to restoring the natural ecology of Floreana, to provide a blueprint for island restoration throughout the tropics. It will include a full eradication of rodents and cats using a combination of approaches including baiting stations and targeted toxins delivered by helicopter. This is an ambitious initiative, as it would represent the largest removal of invasive species from a tropical island anywhere, but it would act as inspiration for similar efforts worldwide. This eradication will not only help the native wildlife recover, but will also improve agricultural yields by up to 50% to improve local livelihoods and food security. Once eradication is complete, the project will progress to reintroducing 13 locally extinct species (example photos above) including owls, hawks, finches, and a snake. It will also aim to save the Floreana Giant Tortoise from complete extinction as 75% pure individuals still exist in captivity and so a wild population should be able to be resurrected. This project on Floreana in a global biodiversity and tourism hotspot also provides a unique opportunity to highlight the benefits of restoration to a global audience.