With more than 275,000 visitors to the islands last year, the popularity of the Galapagos islands is on the rise. Unfortunately, the growing numbers of people on the islands is also threatening the stability of landscapes and wildlife through the pollution and invasive species that they introduce. Many global and local organizations are fighting back, and are giving people the chance to help tackle these problems as a conservation volunteer. Volunteering can offer opportunities to people of all abilities. Due to an increasing number of accessible areas, it is possible for anyone with mobility issues to enjoy a stay on the Galapagos Islands. The voluntary work here makes a real difference and, everyone can share the sense of fulfillment achieved through positive change.
Opportunities for Everyone
There is a wide range of volunteering positions available on the Galapagos Islands, with tasks to suit people of all ages and abilities. Teaching is a direct way to share skills with the local residents, while at the same time becoming immersed in the local environment. For anyone interested in teaching English as a second language on the islands, Paragon Galapagos offers the opportunity to become involved with all aspects of the teaching process. Acting as cultural ambassadors, the volunteers also help to organize a range of recreational activities, bringing together the local community. For other academic and professional opportunities on the islands, students and professionals with specific skills for scientific programs, administration and fundraising are often required. They may find themselves working in and around the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz. Although some of the islands’ terrain is rough, the Station’s paved walkways are wheelchair accessible, and it would make a comfortable workplace for the mobility-impaired.
Cleaning the Beaches
Some of the beaches of the islands are also wheelchair accessible, and it is mainly on the coastline where volunteers are vital in the fight against plastic waste. The Galapagos islands are an archipelago where three ocean currents come together, and this unusual geographical situation means they has become magnet for plastics from all over the world. Ecuador has now joined the United Nations Clean Seas Campaign, and volunteers, including the Paragon teachers, regularly take part in beach clean ups across the islands, collecting tons of damaging plastic waste. By joining the expeditionary organizations that survey the damage done by plastic, or enlisting with one of the volunteer groups who regularly collect trash from the shore lines, volunteers can make a real difference to the islands.
Monitoring Flora and Fauna
Several organizations run programs for wildlife conservation volunteers on the islands, where duties might include helping out at the giant tortoise breeding center, or monitoring the well being of local animals. Removing alien plants and species is important work on the island as it prevents the extinction of native plants and animals. Last year, volunteers helped save Darwin’s finches by monitoring activity, recording data and collecting samples. This crucial information is now being used to ensure the survival of the iconic birds.
With increasing numbers of people on the Galapagos islands, the unique and invaluable wildlife and landscapes of the islands are suffering. By combining a love of nature with practical volunteering, it is possible to offset some of the damage, clean the islands of trash from around the world, and help protect the island’s wildlife from extinction.