The Ecuadorian National Environmental Fund's "Galápagos Invasive Species" account received a major injection of US$2.19 million on March 18 under the framework of the UNESCO-World Heritage Centre/United Nations Foundation project for the management of invasive species at this globally recognized World Heritage site. The Fund, which was established in 2007 with support from the United Nations Development Programme, will support invasive species control and eradication activities in the islands. Combined with a previous contribution of one million US dollars from the Ecuador government, the fund's holdings now stand at 3.19 million US dollars.
Invasive species are the greatest direct threat to the unique ecosystems of the Galápagos. People began introducing goats, pigs and cattle to the islands when they were first settled in the early 19th century. These, along with other domestic animals such as cats and dogs, have established wild populations and prey on, or compete aggressively with local species, driving some of them to extinction, such as the Land Iguana of Santiago island.
Today, a growing number of introduced plant and insect species, along with micro-organisms which cause disease, pose an increasing risk to Galápagos biodiversity, driving up the cost of managing them by eradication or permanent control. Increasing tourism and population growth in Galápagos have been closely linked to the difficulty of keeping introduced species out of the islands.
This contribution was raised with the support of the United Nations Foundation, Conservation International's Global Conservation Fund, and Galápagos Conservancy. The capitalization target for the Galápagos Invasive Species Fund is US$15M.