A coalition of about 40 partners has mobilized $43 million to restore the Galápagos Islands. Among the organizations leading the project is Re:wild, a group co-founded by actor Leonardo DiCaprio. This work coincides with the recent collapse of Darwin’s Arch on Monday, May 17. The islands are known for their endemic species and have helped scientists understand the evolution and ecology of the world.
Many habitats in the Galápagos Islands have been damaged by human activities and the introduction of foreign species. Re:wild, a group formed between the Global Wildlife Conservation and Leonardo DiCaprio, is now working with other organizations to restore the Galápagos to its original state.
The coalition has three priorities in the quest to restore the islands. The goals include restoring Floreana Island, increasing the population of critically endangered pink iguanas and strengthening the area’s marine reserves. Of all the islands in the Galápagos, Floreana Island is the most degraded by human activities.
While initial restoration efforts will focus on Floreana Island, the group plans to later expand to the other islands. Early targets include reintroducing 13 species that have gone extinct and further increasing the populations of 54 threatened species on the island. Over the next decade, the project aims to restore two dozen islands and reverse the decline of 250 threatened species.
“Rewilding, a positive reframing for nature conservation, involves holistic solutions to remove barriers and reestablish vibrant wildlife populations and intact, functional, and resilient ecosystems that effectively integrate people,” Re:wild stated in a press release.
DiCaprio hopes to use his social media influence to push the project. With a total of over 86 million followers across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, he has announced handing the control of his social accounts to Paula A. Castaño, a veterinarian and biologist with Island Conservation who also lives on the Galápagos.
“I’m excited to share her team’s work and to support the longstanding effort to protect and restore these iconic islands, alongside the team at Re:wild,” said DiCaprio.
Castaño has hailed the coalition’s efforts, saying that it will not only help save the islands but will also provide lessons to be used elsewhere. She also emphasizes the need for action to be taken soon.
“Time is running out for so many species, especially on islands where their small populations are vulnerable and threatened,” Castaño said in a statement.
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