Engaging Local Youth in Conserving the Galapagos Tortoise
Despite being among the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Galapagos Islands’ fragile habitats and iconic species are at risk due to lack of effective protection efforts. The Galapagos giant tortoise is threatened by invasive species, habitat loss, and minimal engagement of local residents in conservation. In partnership with Galapagos National Park, this project engages local, disadvantaged youth in experiential education and applied conservation of Galapagos tortoises. At least 250 students from all nine high schools in Galapagos will participate in one of 15 four-day field courses, helping researchers collect biometric and population data on tortoises in the wild, removing at least 6000m2 of invasive plant species, and studying tortoise feeding ecology. Tortoise nests will be monitored and captive-raised hatchlings released. In addition, at least 600 youth will take part in projects like beach clean ups and career mentoring, ensuring long-term local investment in protection of this exceptional archipelago.