Galapagos Conservation Trust
The Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) is a British conservation charity (registered number 1043470) which focuses on the conservation and sustainability of the Galapagos Islands. It is a member of the Friends of Galapagos Organisations (also known as the Darwin Network). It was launched in 1995 at the Royal Society in London. In 2011, the organisation updated its vision to embrace three primary dimensions of science, education and culture as focal points for its work. The vision promotes the view that the challenges faced by the Galapagos are multi-faceted and can best be addressed using a holistic approach. The organisation has raised almost £5 million to date and supports a vast array of projects in Galapagos.
Their CEO is Sharon Johnson and the chairman is Dr. Mark Collins.
Ambassadors for the charity include Jonathan and Angela Scott, actress Emma Thompson, Stanley Johnson, Henry Nicholls, Sarah Darwin, Monty Halls, Dr. Godfrey Merlen, Randal Keynes, Julian Fitter, Angela Darwin, Jennifer Stone, Dr. Antje Steinfurth, Nigel Sitwell, Professor Ian Swingland, Dorothy Latsis, Sir James Barlow and Janet Barber. Of these, Sir James, Sarah Darwin and Randal Keynes are descended from Charles Darwin - Angela Darwin is a Darwin by marriage (she is the widow of George Pember Darwin, son of Charles Galton Darwin).
GCT works closely with authorities and organisations in Galapagos and mainland Ecuador. It supports a wide array of projects from species specific studies and ecosystem-scale restoration projects to promoting local recycling initiatives and education. They have supported the Mangrove Finch Conservation Project and invasive species control of Philornis downsi both run by the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF).
They also support work by The Prince's Foundation for Building Community and the Charles Darwin Foundation on sustainable development within Puerto Ayora, one of the largest towns within Galapagos.
Conservation through education: Discovering Galapagos
GCT partnered with the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to launch their new teaching resource Discovering Galapagos. The resource consists of two websites, one adapted and linked to the UK curriculum and one adapted for delivery in Galapagos and mainland Ecuador. A bilingual blog connects the two sites allowing for interactions between students from around the world.
Mangrove finch conservation
Mangrove finches (Camarhynchus heliobates) are classed as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, with less than 100 individuals alive today. Since 2006, researchers have been exploring the key causes of population decline. One of the most critical threats to the mangrove finch population was posed by invasive species. Rats would predated upon eggs and chicks, and the larvae of a parasitic fly ("Philornis downsi"), would suck the blood of nestlings which would often resulting in death. In 2013, 37% of nestlings were killed this way.
However, in January 2014, project researchers reported successfully raising 15 mangrove finch chicks in captivity and releasing them back into the wild. Therefore, in April 2014, the GCT launched the Mangrove Finch Appeal to raise funding for the 2015 season.
The Mangrove Finch Project is a bi-institutional project carried out by the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galapagos National Park in collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The project is supported by the Galapagos Conservation Trust, The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Galapagos Conservancy, and the British Embassy in Ecuador.