Master Thesis ǀ Tesis de Maestría submitted within the UNIGIS MSc programme presentada para el Programa UNIGIS MSc at/en Interfaculty Department of Geoinformatics- Z_GIS Departamento de Geomática – Z_GIS University of Salzburg ǀ Universidad de Salzburg
Identifying conservation priorities for terrestrial ecosystems in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador Identificación de las prioridades de conservación terrestre en las Islas Galápagos, Ecuador by/por
Maja Celinšćak M.Sc. 1322591 A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science (Geographical Information Science & Systems) – MSc (GIS) Advisor ǀ Supervisor: Leonardo Zurita Arthos PhD
Quito – Ecuador, March 6, 2016
Compromiso de Ciencia Por medio del presente documento, incluyendo mi firma personal certifico y aseguro que mi tesis es completamente el resultado de mi propio trabajo. He citado todas las fuentes que he usado en mi tesis y en todos los casos he indicado su origen.
Quito, 6 de marzo de 2016
RESUMEN El Archipiélago de Galápagos es una localidad de renombre científico mundial cuya biodiversidad única dio lugar a su declaración como Parque Nacional, el cual cubre aproximadamente el 97% de las Islas. Sin embargo, el auge del turismo durante los últimos 30 años está creando presión sobre los ecosistemas frágiles debido al aumento de las actividades humanas, muchas de las cuales pasan los límites del Parque Nacional o se desarrollan completamente dentro del mismo. Estas actividades constituyen potenciales amenazas para la conservación que no han sido evaluadas de manera conjunta hasta el momento. En consecuencia, el objetivo del presente trabajo es realizar un análisis de priorización de conservación de los ecosistemas terrestres en Galápagos, la cual considera los riesgos producidos por las actividades humanas, la exposición a las mismas y el valor de los servicios ecosistémicos. La metodología utilizada para el presente trabajo consta de una secuencia de pasos llevados a cabo en software de SIG ArcGIS, los cuales se aplican a cuatro islas habitadas del archipiélago: San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Isabela y Floreana. En primer lugar, se analiza espacialmente el riesgo acumulado de la urbanización, las carreteras, la agricultura, las especies invasoras, la eliminación de residuos y las canteras, utilizando la herramienta Environmental Risk Surface. Luego se crea un mapa basado en el valor de los servicios ecosistémicos de los ecosistemas terrestres y un mapa de la exposición a las actividades humanas tomando en cuenta el estado de conservación. Por último, estos tres mapas se sobreponen para producir un mapa de prioridades de conservación: Áreas que tienen mayor valor de servicios ambientales y están expuestos a riesgos de actividades humanas. Los resultados muestran grandes diferencias en la prioridad de conservación entre la zona intervenida y el Parque Nacional. La zona habitada de las cuatro islas se puede considerar como el área principal con prioridad de conservación, ya que 99.84% de su superficie tiene algún nivel de prioridad. La prioridad para acciones de conservación se concentra en la zona rural, donde los riesgos sumados de la urbanización, la agricultura y las especies invasoras ejercen mayor presión. Por el contrario, 92.09% del Parque Nacional está dentro de la categoría de prioridad cero, con la baja y media baja prioridad concentrada en las zonas aledañas al área intervenida. Las canteras, carreteras, especies invasoras y eliminación de residuos son identificadas como los riesgos que entran o están completamente dentro del Parque Nacional, lo cual es contrario a la legislación nacional. El mapa final presenta una oportunidad para concentrar las acciones de conservación en áreas en las que se centran los riesgos para los ecosistemas terrestres, y las conclusiones proponen algunas opciones potenciales para estas acciones. Palabras clave: Conservación, Galápagos, Environmental Risk Surface (ERS), riesgo, actividades humanas, servicios ecosistémicos
ABSTRACT The Galapagos Archipelago is a world-renowned scientific hotspot where the unique biodiversity has led to the declaration of the Galapagos Islands as a National Park, which covers almost 97% of the Islands. However, the boom of tourism over the last 30 years is creating pressure on the fragile ecosystems due to increasing human activities, many of which pass into or are completely within the National Park limits. These activities are potential threats to conservation that have not been jointly evaluated until now. Accordingly, the objective of the present work is to perform a conservation prioritization analysis for terrestrial ecosystems in the Galapagos Archipelago by taking into consideration risks from human activities, exposure to them and the value of ecosystem services. The methodology consists of a series of steps performed in the GIS software ArcGIS, which are applied to four inhabited islands of the Archipelago: San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana. First, it spatially analyzes the cumulative risk from urbanization, roads, agriculture, invasive species, waste disposal and quarries, using the Environmental Risk Surface tool. Then it creates a map based on the value of terrestrial ecosystem services and a map of exposure to human activities that takes into account the conservation status of the area. Finally, these three maps are overlaid to produce a map of conservation priority: areas that have highest ecosystem service value and are exposed to human risks. The results demonstrate there are considerable differences between the conservation priority in the inhabited zone and the National Park. The inhabited zone of the four islands can be considered as the main area of conservation priority, as 99.84% of the area has some level of priority. The priority for conservation actions is concentrated in the rural zone where the summed risks of urbanization, agriculture and invasive species exert most pressure. By contrast, 92.09% of the National Park is within the category of zero priority, with the low and medium low priority mostly focused in the areas adjoining the intervened zone. Quarries, roads, invasive species and waste disposal are identified as risks that pass into or are completely within the National Park, which is contrary to the national legislation. The final map presents an opportunity to concentrate conservation actions in areas where risks for terrestrial ecosystems are focused, and the conclusions present potential options for these actions. Keywords: Conservation, Galapagos, Environmental Risk Surface (ERS), risk, human activities, ecosystem services.
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1.
INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................ 10 1.1.
BACKGROUND .................................................................................................................. 10
OBJECTIVES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS......................................................................... 11
General objective ..................................................................................................... 11
Specific Objectives.................................................................................................... 11
Research questions .................................................................................................. 12
JUSTIFICATION .................................................................................................................. 12
SCOPE ............................................................................................................................... 13
LITERATURE REVIEW ................................................................................................................ 15 2.1.
URBANIZATION ................................................................................................................. 15
MINERAL EXTRACTION ..................................................................................................... 16
ROADS .............................................................................................................................. 17
LAND USE.......................................................................................................................... 19
SOLID WASTE .................................................................................................................... 20
INVASIVE SPECIES ............................................................................................................. 20
GIS IN CONSERVATION ..................................................................................................... 22
2.7.1. 2.8. 3.
USING ECOSYSTEM SERVICES FOR DETERMINING CONSERVATION PRIORITY ................ 27
METHODOLOGY........................................................................................................................ 31 3.1.
STUDY AREA ..................................................................................................................... 31
GEOGRAPHIC DATA .......................................................................................................... 35
METHODOLOGY FLOW CHART ......................................................................................... 36
CUMULATIVE RISK MAP ................................................................................................... 37
GIS in conservation prioritization ............................................................................. 25
Influence distance and intensity of risk elements.................................................... 39
ECOSYSTEM VALUE MAP .................................................................................................. 41
EXPOSURE MAP ................................................................................................................ 42
CONSERVATION PRIORITY MAP ....................................................................................... 42
RESULTS .................................................................................................................................... 44 4.1.
CUMULATIVE RISK MAP ................................................................................................... 44
ECOSYSTEM VALUE MAP .................................................................................................. 49
EXPOSURE MAP ................................................................................................................ 51 5
CONSERVATION PRIORITY MAP ....................................................................................... 53
DISCUSSION .............................................................................................................................. 58 5.1.
RISK MAPS ........................................................................................................................ 58
ECOSYSTEM VALUE MAP .................................................................................................. 62
EXPOSURE MAP ................................................................................................................ 63
CONSERVATION PRIORITY MAP ....................................................................................... 64
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS ............................................................................................. 68
CONCLUSIONS .......................................................................................................................... 71
REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................. 73
LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Ecosystem services. ........................................................................................................... 28 Figure 2. Terrestrial, aquatic and marine species described in the Galapagos Archipelago. .......... 32 Figure 3. Base map of the Galapagos Islands ................................................................................... 35 Figure 4. Methodology flow chart .................................................................................................... 37 Figure 5. Risk map for agriculture, Galapagos Islands. .................................................................... 44 Figure 6. Risk map for invasive species, Galapagos Islands ............................................................. 45 Figure 7. Risk map for quarries, Galapagos Islands. ......................................................................... 45 Figure 8. Risk map for roads, Galapagos Islands. ............................................................................. 46 Figure 9. Risk map for urbanization, Galapagos Islands. .................................................................. 46 Figure 10. Risk map for garbage disposal, Galapagos Islands. ......................................................... 47 Figure 11. Cumulative risk map, Galapagos Islands. ........................................................................ 48 Figure 12. Cumulative risk map, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos........................................................ 49 Figure 13. Ecosystem value map, Galapagos Islands. ...................................................................... 51 Figure 14. Exposure map for Galapagos Islands. ............................................................................. 52 Figure 15. Conservation priority map for Galapagos Islands ........................................................... 54 Figure 16. Proportion of conservation priority areas in the four analyzed Islands. ........................ 55 Figure 17. Proportion of Santa Cruz Island according to conservation priority score. .................... 56 Figure 18. Conservation priority map by planning units, Galapagos Islands. .................................. 57
LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Summary of the inhabited islands of Galapagos ................................................................ 31 Table 2. Influence distance and intensity assigned to risk elements ............................................... 40 Table 3. Influence distance for road subcategories ......................................................................... 41 Table 4. Value of ecosystem services for terrestrial ecosystems on Galapagos. ............................. 50 Table 5. Surface area and percentage of Galรกpagos Islands with their conservation priority score. .......................................................................................................................................................... 55
Environmental Risk Surface
Galapagos National Park
Galapagos Marine Reserve
SIMAVIS System of Managing Visitors
1. INTRODUCTION 1.1. BACKGROUND The Galapagos Archipelago is a cluster of 13 big (>10 km2) and 5 smaller (1-10 km2) islands1 in the Pacific Ocean, approximately 926 km off the west coast of Ecuador, South America (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). The isolated location of the Islands, but also their late discovery in 1535, has led to the evolution of unique ecosystems with high rates of endemism (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). In the 1600’s the Islands served as a supply stop for whalers, later as a penal colony, but human colonization was slow due to harsh living conditions (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). The Archipelago was finally included into the territory of Ecuador in 1832, after which the first colonization efforts initiated (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). Today, the Galapagos Islands are famous for their unique flora and fauna, and for being the birthplace of one of the most important theories in nature sciences, the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, postulated by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species (Darwin, 1859). The rise of scientific importance of the Islands has led to increasing efforts for their conservation, which officially started in 1959 with the creation of the Galapagos National Park (GNP) which spreads over 8,006 km2 occupying roughly 96.7% of the Islands, whereas the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), created in 1998, covers 138,000 km2 (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). The local population, living initially off fishing and agriculture, experienced a gradual transformation through tourism since the late 1960’s, which eventually became the most important economic activity. The natural attractions of the Islands and the exclusive highend market that it aims for have transformed the Islands into a world-class tourist attraction, but have also led to numerous problems. Tourism within the GNP and GMR is well managed through the use of the SIMAVIS management tool (System of Managing Visitors), but there is still the risk of disturbing the wildlife, trampling, transporting seeds and invertebrates, among others (Reck, Casafont, 1
Additionally, there are 216 islets and rocks in the Archipelago.
Naula, & Oviedo, 2010). The major threat to conservation, however, comes from the inhabited area, covering only 3.3% of the land surface (CDF, GNP, and GCG, 2010). The introduction of exotic species by the early colonists has led to their spread from agricultural and urban areas into protected zones, and now puts into jeopardy the unique biodiversity of the Islands. Furthermore, tourism stimulates the need to transport increasing quantities of construction material, fuel, food, water and other goods from the continent, which carries a risk of contamination, introduction of new exotic species and produces alarming quantities of waste. The population continues to grow, leading to strong urbanization that sometimes even crosses into the protected zones.
1.2. OBJECTIVES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS Despite these well-known threats, little attention has been given to how much influence human activities such as mining, roads, urbanization and land use influence ecosystems, ecosystem services and conservation goals in Galapagos. Few of these activities have been studied in Galapagos to begin with, and no investigation thus far has been made to account for these activities jointly. This provides a strong practical need to evaluate how and where human activities are threatening the ecosystems of Galapagos and leads to the main objective of this investigation, which is to perform a conservation prioritization analysis for terrestrial ecosystems in the Galapagos Archipelago. 1.2.1. General objective To identify areas that require immediate conservation effort due to their ecosystem importance and the potential damage they could suffer as a result of human activities. 1.2.2. Specific Objectives ď‚§
To identify, quantify and spatially delimit the most important human activities that potentially cause damage to terrestrial ecosystems in Galapagos.
To establish areas within or outside the GNP with high ecosystem value with respect to ecosystem services provided, and their exposure to human activities.
To determine conservation priority areas.
1.2.3. Research questions 1. Which human activities potentially damage terrestrial ecosystems in Galapagos, and where are they located? 2. Which terrestrial ecosystem provides highest-value ecosystem services and what is its exposure status? 3. Which areas should be prioritized for conservation action based on the value and status of the ecosystem services they provide?
1.3. HYPOTHESIS The described general situation of the Galapagos Islands leads to the hypothesis that there are areas of high-value terrestrial ecosystems in Galapagos that are under pressure from human activities, and which require conservation attention.
1.4. JUSTIFICATION There are technical reports on many human activities on Galapagos, and some information is available on the influence of a few of them, but it is all isolated material. For example, we know the quantity of imported goods, the generation of solid waste, demography, tourism, transport and so on, we have an inventory of local, endemic and exotic species, we know that road traffic has a negative influence on local fauna, we know that invasive species are taking over certain islands (for example, CDF, GNP, and GCG, 2010; CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014; GuĂŠzou et al., 2010; RenterĂa, Gardener, Panetta, Atkinson, & Crawley, 2012; Tanner & Perry, 2007), but we do not have a complete picture that integrates all the parts. Isolated investigations and reports cannot cover the combined effects of human activities, so there is pressing need to integrate a wider scope of human actions, and evaluate them as a common threat to conservation efforts. This is particularly necessary for sensitive and unique ecosystems, such as Galapagos. The high level of endemism and the evolutionary processes that were paramount for developing the Theory of Evolution, have led to great scientific interest for this Archipelago. Furthermore, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978, UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1984, Whale Sanctuary in 1990 and Ramsar Site in 2002, but the increase of human activities jeopardizes all of those qualities. 12
It is, therefore, necessary to identify and quantify the impacts of the various human activities on the ecosystem in a holistic view, in order to establish their effect on the ecosystems and identify if there are areas that require particular conservation effort.
1.5. SCOPE The analysis will involve the four main inhabited Galapagos Islands: San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana, at a scale of 1:5,000. As it has been stated previously, the main objective of this work is to identify areas that require immediate conservation effort due to their ecosystem importance and the potential damage they suffer as a result of human activities. This information can be very useful for governmental organizations that operate in the Galapagos, for example, the Ministry of the Environment, which is in charge of the National Park (NP), the NP authorities and the local governments that are responsible for the inhabited portion of the islands. These organizations could use this work to examine their action plans for conservation and land use planning, thus the information provided here could support local authorities in achieving their development goals. This work could also prove useful to the Galapagos NGO sector by helping them focus valuable resources necessary for conservation in Galapagos. This research demonstrates that conservation prioritization can be a user-friendly process that can be performed on any scale considered necessary. This is particularly important for the national government which is investing considerable funds in conservation, and must focus actions to areas that truly require it. There are several limitations of the current investigation that need to be considered. Firstly, any living system is dynamic and changes rapidly, so the analysis will be a sort of a snapshot that depends on the date of the information available. This is particularly important in regards to invasive species which spread quickly, but whose habitat is monitored only at certain locations (GuĂŠzou et al., 2010; RenterĂa, Gardener, Panetta, & Crawley, 2012). The situation is similar for urbanization, since there are reports of intensifying construction activities in rural areas due to tourism (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014) but there are currently no means of verifying it.
Finally, an important difficulty is that there is no information available for certain activities that potentially have a strong negative impact, such as sewage discharge points, which are largely untreated and lead directly into the sea or unlined cesspools that contaminate the surrounding soil and, potentially, aquifers. Furthermore, only certain human activities have been evaluated in Galapagos, so the bulk of the impacts will be estimated from global examples that may have somewhat different effect in Galapagos. This is particularly significant in determining the area of impact (buffer zone) and the relative importance of the impacts, but decisions regarding this difficulty will be guided by the available scientific work and expert knowledge.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW The literature review that follows is somewhat extensive due to the various subjects that require an understanding of broad concepts and analysis of examples. Therefore, the following sections are structured in two main themes: ď‚§
Human activities: six types of human activities that will be considered for risk analysis are first discussed briefly as general conditions and implications, followed by a review of the relevant literature pertaining to Galapagos Islands; and
Conservation prioritization: concepts and relevant examples.
2.1. URBANIZATION The population growth and changes in the production systems worldwide have led to an increasing proportion of city populations on a global scale, causing social and environmental problems. Urbanization leads to a rise of human population in a certain area and is linked to an increase of per capita energy consumption and far-reaching alteration of the landscape. Changes in the physical environment include the urban heat island effect, alterations in precipitation regime, hydrology, soil structure, nutrients, air quality, and lead to modification of the community organization of local flora and fauna and their interactions (McDonnell & Pickett, 1990; Pickett et al., 2008). In general, the negative ecological effects of urbanization are the reduction and fragmentation of habitat and the structural simplification of vegetation, but McKinney (2008) emphasizes that other aspects can enhance biodiversity through the introduction of species and increased spatial heterogeneity. McKinney states that extreme urbanization, such as can be found in urban core areas, tends to decrease species richness across taxa, but a moderate intensity of urbanization has varying effects. For example, the benefits in such areas are most frequent for plants whose species richness tends to increase, while other groups, like mammals, amphibians and reptiles continue to exhibit reduced species richness. Birds are one of the groups of wildlife most studied in terms of ecological effects of urbanization. They are impacted by direct changes such as loss of habitat, introduction of species, changes in predator communities, but also by indirect effects from toxins, climate change, physiological stress, etc. (Marzluff, 2001). For example, some species have been 15
found to decline as a result of changes in nesting habitat and available food, while others, such as corvids, thrive because of new food sources (Marzluff, 2001). The growth of cities is reaching critical levels in the Galapagos, with extremely poor planning and zoning. The opportunity of finding well paid employment in tourism attracts strong immigration from the mainland. There were 25,124 people living in Galapagos in 2010, which represents a population growth of 3.2% from 2001 (compared to 1.9% on the national level) â€“ and 47.1% of that was due to immigration (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Four inhabited islands hold eight settlements. Santa Cruz Island has the largest city of the province called Puerto Ayora (11,974 habitants), and rural settlements Bellavista (2,425) and Santa Rosa (994). San Cristobal Island holds the provincial capital and second largest city Puerto Baquerizo Moreno (6,672) and village of El Progreso (658). Isabela Island has settlements Puerto Villamil (2,092) and Tomas de Berlanga (164), and Floreana Island has one settlement, Puerto Velasco Ibarra (145) (INEC, 2010). Currently, urban areas account for 2.6% of the intervened zone, of which 63.5 ha is on Santa Cruz Island, 645.8 ha on San Cristobal, 91.1 ha on Isabela, and 36.4 ha on Floreana (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014).
2.2. MINERAL EXTRACTION The environmental impacts of aggregate extraction to terrestrial ecosystems are considered benign in comparison to other types of mining, and are often short-lived after the termination of activities. They refer mostly to habitat loss due to stripping of vegetation, noise, dust, blasting, erosion, sedimentation and visual impacts (Langer & Arbogast, 2002; McPherson et al., 2008). The growth of settlements in Galapagos requires great amounts of building materials to be transported from the continent, reaching 31,034.38 t in 2012 (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Some, like wood and aggregate materials are extracted from the Islands themselves. Between 2000 and 2008, the extraction of gravel has increased by 60%, of sand 40% and of rock 203% (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). This is due principally to new residential and tourist infrastructure, which, in some cases, encroaches
on the National Park territory. There are currently ten active quarries in Santa Cruz, San Cristobal and Isabela Islands, and eight closed ones. Literature review has not revealed any work regarding ecosystem effects of mineral extraction in Galapagos.
2.3. ROADS The influence of roads to ecosystems has been well studied in terms of disruption of ecological processes due to a variety of negative influences (Coffin, 2007; Haskell, 2000; Seiler, 2001; Spellerberg, 1998; Trombulak & Frissell, 2000). For example, a road represents a strong transition between the natural and artificial habitat, creating an edge effect with regards to soil characteristics, hydrology, microclimate, light conditions and pollution from dust, PAHs, dioxins, heavy metals and CO that impact soil and water quality and can physically damage plant communities. Changes in light conditions from clearing of vegetation and artificial lighting can potentiate the spread of succession vegetation. Seiler (2001) warns that roads represent barriers in streams, floodplains and wetlands, altering not only the movement of species, but also the hydrodynamics and sediment deposition. They cause habitat fragmentation that creates specific movement corridors, isolates resources and suitable habitats, separate populations and possibly lead to local extinctions. The same author states that noise must also be taken into account, which is a significant disturbance for humans and even more so for certain animal groups that rely strongly on vocal communication. Furthermore, roads facilitate the spread of human activities into the surrounding ambient beyond the road itself, such as legal or illegal hunting and fishing, recreation, and changes in the use of land and water (Trombulak & Frissell, 2000). However, the most easily observed effect is produced by vehicle movement that causes injury and fatality to fauna (Coffin, 2007; Seiler, 2001; Spellerberg, 1998). Another important effect that must not be overlooked is that the man-made road verge habitat may be beneficial to some species, particularly to non-native flora that can proliferate as a result of the removal of native species for road construction and
maintenance, and can establish there due to the altered environmental conditions that native species cannot tolerate (Gelbard & Belnap, 2003; Trombulak & Frissell, 2000). Total surface occupied by roads in Galapagos amounts to almost 209 ha, 173.6 ha within the intervened zone, and 35.2 ha in the NP (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). The largest and most transited road is a 40 km stretch on Santa Cruz Island, leading from the largest city, Puerto Ayora, to the most important airport on the adjoining Baltra Island. The road is approximately 10 m wide, with a gravel shoulder of 1.5 m and divides the island in two. The heaviest traffic is found between Puerto Ayora and neighboring Bellavista, while the northern leg of the road receives much less traffic, composed mostly of tourist shuttles and taxis (Tanner & Perry, 2007). Most research focuses on mortality of birds and lava lizards, as they are the most conspicuous casualties of roads in Galapagos. Jiménez - Uzcátegui and Betancourt (2008) report that bird fatalities on the abovementioned road increased from 0.43 per km of road in 1980 to 0.70 in 2004, averaging 25 birds per day and estimating that approximately 9,000 birds were killed by vehicles between 2004 and 2006. A study by Gottdenker et al. (2008) on causes of death of birds brought to the Charles Darwin research station on Santa Cruz showed that 79% died of direct trauma due to vehicular collision, and 82% of trauma or trauma-related consequences. However, they warn that the sampling was biased because dead birds are more conspicuous on that road, but affirm that the road is definitely a local population sink for birds. Lava lizards are another frequent casualty along the same road, where Tanner and Perry (2007) found a strong population effect in that the abundance of lizards increases by 29% at 100 m intervals moving away from the road. Furthermore, they found that the tail loss2 of killed lizards decreased with distance from the road, reaching baseline values at 200 m. Field observations showed road avoidance, where, of the 17 lizards that were observed intending to cross the road, 2 were killed and 15 returned. They also identified hotspots for fatalities, situated between 27-34.5 km along the road for birds and lizards, and 1-4 km from Puerto Ayora for birds only. Another research modeled a small 1 km road between Puerto Ayora and the Charles Darwin research station (Tanner, Lehman, & Perry, 2
Lizards can detach or “lose” their tail as a defense mechanism when threatened.
2007). They reported 0.4 mature males and 1.8 juveniles killed per km of road, and, using population modeling, reached the conclusion that the local population is in decline and will be extirpated if no management measures are taken.
2.4. LAND USE Environmental impacts of global land use change can be identified as a very broad spectrum, from changing the atmospheric composition to altering ecosystems (Foley, 2005). Croplands and pastures occupy approximately 40% of land globally, and during the last 40 years agricultural activities have led to an increase of fertilizer use by about 700% and of irrigation by 70%, causing contamination and directly changing the hydrology of an area. Other land use changes, such as deforestation, also affect the hydrology, climate and air quality; most interventions in general degrade natural ecosystems by introducing pests, pathogens, and often times contaminates due to poor planning and inadequate use of technology. Viewed in terms of ecosystem services, the feedback between the ecosystem and agricultural system are complex. Despite enhancing the very important food provisioning services, agriculture is more often viewed in terms of disservice to an ecosystem due to changes in nutrient cycles and pollution, emissions of greenhouse gasses, hydrology and flood occurrence, loss of biodiversity and erosion, to name a few (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005; Power, 2010). Food supply is an important issue in the Galapagos, due to the fact that internal demand is calculated at 14,627 t/yr of food, while local production amounts to only 2,512 t/yr; the only local product that completely covers the demand is beef, with a production of 932 t/yr (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). The main food groups produced are fruits (808 t/yr), vegetables (347 t/yr) and roots and tubers (241 t/yr); virtually the only product meant for export is coffee (54 t/yr) (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). As mentioned previously, 3.3% of terrestrial surface of the Galapagos is intended for human activities, and 82% of that area is agricultural land, of which 37.5% is pasture and 35.7% is perennial crops with non-native species. The agricultural area is poorly utilized (approximately 53.1% is sub-utilized and 31.6% is over-utilized), the level of technology used is low, and planning and zoning is inadequate (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Furthermore, the abandonment of agricultural lands is common and fewer people than 19
ever are employed in agricultural activities; the cultivated area decreased by 23% and pasture by 32% between 2000 and 2010 (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014), additionally mounting the pressure for transport of goods from the mainland.
2.5. SOLID WASTE Waste disposal has traditionally generated health concerns for near-by populations, but the effects on the environment as a whole cannot be disputed. Some of the most common environmental impacts are contamination of air by greenhouse gases and unpleasant odors, and of soil and groundwater by heavy metals, synthetic organic compounds, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), PCDD/Fs
compounds and coliform bacteria (Cai, Mo, Wu, Katsoyiannis, & Zeng, 2008; Leung, Cai, & Wong, 2006; Mor, Ravindra, Dahiya, & Chandra, 2006; Ritzkowski & Stegmann, 2007; Schenato, Schroder, & Martins, 2008; Taylor & Allen, 2006). It has been shown in previous sections that human activities in Galapagos require a great quantity of goods to be transported to the Islands, which inevitably creates a strain on the waste disposal system. The Archipelago currently has two sanitary landfills and a waste dump that receive solid waste from 25,124 inhabitants and about 3,815 tourists a day. The population of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal generate approximately 0.75 kg/person/day, compared to 2.1 kg/person/day reported for tourists (Castillo PazmiĂąo, 2010). Waste is collected separately, some is reused, like glass, and some is returned to the mainland, like tires and scrap metal, but a great quantity remains on the Islands. The two most important sectors in solid waste generation on Santa Cruz Island are the commercial (49.9%) and residential sector (44.3%); officially, only 2.8% is attributed directly to tourism (Observatorio de Turismo GalĂĄpagos, 2011), but given that commercial activities are mostly directed at tourists, it can be inferred that a considerable part is produced as a consequence of tourism.
2.6. INVASIVE SPECIES Alien, introduced or exotic species are those that are found outside of their native range or ecosystem, most often being transported by humans deliberately; some of those species may negatively affect the new ecosystem, being then termed as invasive species. 20
Invasions cause important impacts on several fronts: there are strong changes in species and communities, potential hybridization with local species, population decline and even extinctions, alteration and destruction of habitat; then, there exist ecosystem effects such as alteration of the trophic structure, reduction in the abundance and diversity of local plants, changes in the availability, renewal and demand for resources; and, finally socioeconomic impacts caused by modifications of the ecosystem services that human populations rely on (Mooney, 2005; Reaser et al., 2007; VilĂ et al., 2010, 2011). There is still no consensus if island ecosystems are more susceptible to introduced species than mainland. Many of the current invasive species were brought to the Galapagos Islands for agricultural purposes by the colonists; some of the more common plant examples include rose apple (Syzygium jambos), guava (Psidium guajava), blackberry (Rubus niveus), cuban cedar (Cedrela odorata), citrus (Citrus spp), cuban hemp (Furcraea hexapetala) and red quinine (Cinchona pubescens) (Gardener et al., 2013). A study by The Nature Conservancy and CLIRSEN (2006) investigated the invasion of blackberry, guava, cascarilla and apple rose on several islands and found that they often grow in association with other vegetation. However, recently the main concern is the introduction and spread of ornamental species from the inhabited areas into the NP; these plants currently make up the bulk of alien plant species in the Archipelago. It is important to note that roughly 1.14% of the area of NP is occupied by invasive plant species (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). A recent report on invertebrates indicates 490 introduced insect and 53 other invertebrate species (Causton & Sevilla, 2008). GuĂŠzou et al. (2010) performed an extensive survey of 97% of the inhabited area of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana Islands and recorded 754 alien plant species, whose most common use was ornamental. In the humid zones, the most common of these species are guava (Psidium guajava), passionfruit (Passiflora edulis) and air plant (Bryophyllum pinnatum), while aloe (Aloe vera), little hogweed (Portulaca oleracea) and papaya (Carica papaya) prevail in the dry urban areas.
Even though it cannot be asserted that invasive plants invariably cause extinctions, they certainly cause alterations in the structure and function of ecosystems. The example of blackberry is given here as a representative invasive species, but it is certainly not the only example in Galapagos. The blackberry, currently covering approximately 30,000 ha on five islands, is a perennial that spreads in thickets as high as 4 m. It grows mainly in humid highland areas of Galapagos, has a very large seed bank (7,000 seeds/m2) that is viable for several years, and is spread by birds and reptiles. The abundance and species richness of native plant community are diminished in areas invaded by this plant, and it decreases the amount of light that reaches into the understory, thus representing a threat to the native and endemic species of the invaded zone (RenterĂa, Gardener, Panetta, & Crawley, 2012). It is possible that the changes are reversible through the removal of the plants, but the rapid spread (175 ha/yr on Santiago Island,) is cause for great concern and has been the subject of costly, and generally unsuccessful, eradication efforts amounting to $ 400 per ha/yr (RenterĂa, Gardener, Panetta, & Crawley, 2012; Trueman, Standish, Orellana, & Cabrera, 2014). A recent study estimated that blackberry has an annual spread rate of 66 m/yr on Santa Cruz Island (Trueman et al., 2014).
2.7. GIS IN CONSERVATION The increasing amount and quality of spatially-referenced information and the ease of analyzing and manipulating these large amounts of data has made GIS extremely well suited for science applications, and conservation in particular. Information on species distribution, precipitation and temperature patterns, soil types and characteristics, geological formations, water bodies, habitats, natural resources, infrastructure, threats, etc. can be represented spatially in a way that aids in the decision-making and communication between scientists, managers and public in general. The specialized software developed for geographic information systems has therefore been widely used for the last several decades to model species distribution, migratory patterns, habitat quality and availability, analyze threats, find suitable conservation areas, and so on. For example, Lathrop and Bognar (1998) used environmental datasets to develop a GISbased land suitability appraisal for a proposed development project. The mapping of environmental costs provided a basis to develop scenarios of land development, predict 22
the impacts of decisions and finally negotiate a compromise solution. In another case, Phua and Minowa (2005) integrated a multi-criteria decision making approach with GIS for forest conservation planning. They used elements of biodiversity conservation, soil and water conservation, and potential threats that were ordered and weighted in order to find priority areas for future conservation. The study demonstrated that the flexibility of this methodology can greatly enhance conservation planning by helping to prevent or reduce conflicts between stakeholders. Apart from using the non-specialized GIS software for conservation planning, there has been a surge of specialized software developed for the particular needs of organizations and government institutions that manage areas of important biodiversity. This software has the advantage of offering standardized methods to multiple users, despite geographical scales or political jurisdictions, thus providing comparable results that are of great importance in science and conservation planning. Furthermore, the results can potentially be applicable to land use planning, which today is trying to incorporate conservation efforts as an integral part of holistic land use policy. Baldwin, Scherzinger, Lipscomb, Mockrin and Stein (2014) report a comprehensive analysis of the different types of GIS-based conservation software that can also be used for land use planning and distinguish between several basic software uses or goals: reserve selection, habitat connectivity, species distribution modeling, threats, and climate. Reserve selection software, such as Marxan, Sites or Zonation, have been developed from the growing need to introduce scientific rigor to conservation area choi, and reduce opportunistic decisions (Baldwin et al., 2014). These programs consider ecological importance and the levels of threat and vulnerability in order to find areas that are most valuable for conservation. This software is described in more depth in the following chapter on conservation prioritization. Habitat connectivity software, such as CorridorDesigner, Circuitscape and Wild Lifelines, was created out of the need to link reserves through corridors and maintain landscape connectivity for the species that require great areas during their life cycles (Baldwin et al., 23
2014). They use information such as resistance (degree in which the landscape resists the movement of species), habitat requirements and areas or even entire landscapes to connect, in order to find corridors of that assure ecological connectivity. Species distribution modeling software, such as Expert Opinion, Maxent or Presence, predict species ranges based on known species locations and environmental variables (Baldwin et al., 2014). Despite the potential levels of inaccuracy due to data limitation and future environmental change, species range maps are some of the more important information for any conservation planning project. The problem of data restriction is often mediated through the use of surrogates, such as land forms, elevation, soils or climatic conditions, and even though this adds to the uncertainty of the model, it also helps users understand how environmental changes may influence species or communities. Threats software, such as CommunityViz and UrbanSim, and datasets like Human Footprint, map the distribution of human activities that pose a threat to the natural environment which is often a crucial input for conservation prioritization (Baldwin et al., 2014). While many human activities may cause harm to nature (as described in chapters 2.1-2.5), land use change presents one of the most immediate threats because of its profound impacts on the ecosystem and is therefore often in the center of interest. Threat software and datasets facilitate analysis at both local and global scales, which complements many needs in conservation planning. Climate software and datasets, such as ClimateWizard, often focus on future climate change and are used by conservationists to predict how this might affect speciesâ€™ distributions (Baldwin et al., 2014). These projections are generated by climatologists and made available for other users, and represent an important input for conservation and land use planning. Although the software mentioned in this section is very useful to their particular goals, Baldwin et al. stress that there are several problems to using them, such as their complexity, the need for high technical skills, standardized inputs and time investment. In general, this creates a barrier between the academic community or professionals that 24
specialize in this type of work and the land use planners who often lack the resources for training and licenses, despite their acknowledgment of how useful they could be in advancing both conservation and land use planning. 2.7.1. GIS in conservation prioritization The field of identifying conservation priorities is known as conservation prioritization, and can be defined as â€œthe process of using spatial analysis of quantitative data to identify locations for conservation investmentâ€? (Wilson, Cabeza, & Klein, 2009, p. 16). It can apply not only to protected areas, but also to management strategies and conservation activities outside of them. One of the more important considerations in conservation prioritization is that of comprehensiveness, by which the ideal conservation area should contain the composition, structure and function representative of the biodiversity feature. The complementarity principle should also be considered, since it states that costs should be optimized while ensuring that all biodiversity features receive benefit; furthermore, prioritization should be designed for the long term, with considerations for cost-effectiveness and taking into account threats that biodiversity faces. The prioritization is a socio-political process, in which the goals are determined by societal considerations, but one in which science is the key provider of technical information and options (Knight, Cowling, Possingham, & Wilson, 2009). Even though mapping of the relevant factors is in itself an important aspect of this process, it should not focus solely on this tool in order to design a successful conservation strategy, but also include stakeholders opinions, development of scenarios, of decision support systems, social marketing, facilitation and conflict resolution, institutional establishment, monitoring and management, to name a few. An article by Ferrier and Wintle (2009) describes the process of conservation prioritization as having the following phases. The identification of conservation goals is the initial phase of the process, followed by identifying the variables (factors or system attributes) to be considered, which is a scientific and technical stage involving the understanding and describing of the dynamic relations that define the ecology of a system. The next phase requires the gathering of information of the previously defined factors, which should 25
principally be spatial information; in the absence of georeferenced data, carefully selected proxies can be used. The final and critical phase is to perform the prioritization analysis itself by means of one of the two basic principles: scoring of factors (simpler but less efficient) or complementarity based approach (complex but often more efficient). It is becoming more commonplace to use a software decision-support tool to guide the assessment of current protected areas and help choose areas that require conservation effort. A variety of software has been designed with the purpose of aiding in the process of conservation prioritization analysis, such as Zonation, C-Plan or Marxan. Zonation is a software developed by Atte Moilanen as a way to determine conservation priority ranking of the landscape. It maximizes the retention of biodiversity by taking into account biodiversity features, such as species or habitats; socio-economic features, such as land cost or willingness to sell; and threats, such as climate change or pollution (Di Minin, Veach, Lehtomaki, Montesino Pouzols, & Moilanen, 2014). It has been used mostly to identify conservation areas or the expansion of protected zones, but also to prioritize conservation in the context of climate change scenarios and to evaluate existing or proposed protected area networks (Carroll, Dunk, & Moilanen, 2010; Leathwick et al., 2008; LehtomĂ¤ki, Tomppo, Kuokkanen, Hanski, & Moilanen, 2009; Moilanen et al., 2011). C-plan is a decision-support software that associates conservation targets with a GIS software to visualize options for achieving those objectives, developed by New South Wales Government Office of Environment and Heritage. It is composed of three types of tabulated data: targets and other information crucial to conservation, list of sites or planning units with information such as current tenure or availability for conservation management, and finally a matrix of sites and their features with data on vegetation, environmental factors, species distribution, etc. (Pressey, Watts, Barrett, & Ridges, 2009). The software can take into account features like irreplaceability of sites and site costs, such as foregone use of resource extraction or management costs for the planning region. The output is generated in GIS and also in report form that assists in the decision-making process.
Marxan is a flexible tool designed to select a protected area network based on cost, penalty and boundary parameters (Ball & Possingham, 2000). The cost depends on the userâ€™s needs, and can be, for example, the economic cost of setting-up and managing the reserve or the environmental cost of a degraded environment. One of the possible cost inputs for Marxan is through the use of ERS software (Environmental Risk Surface) that spatially analyzes risks (Schill & Raber, 2009). Penalty refers to not achieving a conservation goal, while the length of the boundary is important because of higher costs of management and habitat fragmentation associated with having many isolated conservation areas versus fewer large areas (Ball & Possingham, 2000). The ERS is part of the Protected Areas Tools designed to localize areas where anthropogenic or natural risks occur and overlap (Schill & Raber, 2009). It can take into account any risk the user finds necessary, for example, mineral extraction, application of chemicals in agriculture, sewage contamination or extreme weather events. These risks are given an influence distance and relative importance in order to generate an overlap of these risks. As mentioned earlier, this output can be used within other decision-making software as a â€œconservation costâ€? feature, or as a finished project to guide conservation away from high-risk zones.
2.8. USING ECOSYSTEM SERVICES FOR DETERMINING CONSERVATION PRIORITY There is somewhat conflicting evidence relating to agreement between high biodiversity areas and high ecosystem value, whereby some work finds low concordance while other great (Kareiva & Marvier, 2003; Naidoo et al., 2008; Nelson et al., 2009; Turner et al., 2007). It is, however, suggested that the complexity of an ecosystem is crucial for its functioning and the provisioning of ecosystem services, in that all components play an important role in maintaining the services provided by the ecosystem, and that changes in biodiversity are directly and indirectly associated with changes in ecosystem services (Isbell et al., 2011; Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). Ecosystem services can be defined as benefits that humans obtain from ecosystems, and are divided into four categories that can be evaluated globally (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005), as shown in Figure 1. Many ecosystem services have been reduced in 27
the recent past, most notably fisheries, water supply and purification, waste treatment, natural hazard protection, regulation of air quality, regulation of regional and local climate, among others.
PROVISIONING food - water - wood & fiber - fuel - genetic resources pharmaceuticals
REGULATING climate - floods disease - pollintaion water purification - air quality - natural hazards
CULTURAL aesthetic - spiritual educational recreational & tourism
SUPPORTING nutrient cycling - soil formation - primary production
Figure 1. Ecosystem services. Adapted from Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005
Assigning financial value to the benefits that the human population receives from nature has long intrigued scientists as a way to demonstrate the value of nature and a tool to communicate to the decision-makers that conservation is not only a moral and scientific issue, but also a matter of self-interest. The seminal work of Costanza et al. (1997) estimated that the global ecosystems provide at least US$ 33 trillion worth of services annually, of which 63% is contributed to marine systems and 37% to terrestrial systems. Most of this is outside the current market system, such as nutrient cycling (US$ 17 trillion/yr, waste treatment (US$ 2.3 trillion/yr), disturbance regulation (US$ 1.8 trillion/yr) or gas regulation (US$ 1.3 trillion/yr). However, this work wasnâ€™t intended to focus solely on the monetary value of ecosystem services, but to bring attention to the growing need of managing and using ecosystems sustainably, to study and quantify the significance of their benefits to human well-being and survival. There are several important criticisms to the concept of giving monetary value to these services, such as that we are distorting the value towards the economic side, and disregarding the social, and even more so, the intrinsic values of nature. We may also argue that this concept cannot adequately cost the different types of services, since we have to apply different methodologies and metrics to market goods (such as food of freshwater) and non-market goods (such as spiritual and religious services, disease 28
regulation or fire control). Despite the difficulties, this approach provides a wellestablished scientific basis for guiding the decision-making process regarding the use of the planetâ€™s goods and services if we are to assure current and future human welfare. In terms of conservation, the ecosystem services approach can be helpful because it can facilitate the shift from the protection of selected sites or species to an ecosystem-based management, where both biodiversity and ecosystem services are taken into account. This type of conservation still faces challenges in terms of our understanding and mapping of these services, the design of policy, governance and finance schemes, and finally the implementation of such novel conservation systems in globally diverse settings (Daily & Matson, 2008). Advances in GIS technology and the availability of spatial information regarding biodiversity, ecosystems and their services have been instrumental in advancing this field, and have led to an array of different approaches for valuing and mapping ecosystem services. Studies are very diverse in their methodology, scale, numbers of services analyzed, objectives and so on, but that goes to show how this is a growing field and that academics and decision-makers are recognizing the advantages of this approach. For example, Egoh et al. (2008) analyzed ecosystem services by combining primary data; the soil retention service was evaluated as a function of vegetation or litter cover and soil erosion potential, while carbon storage service was estimated by classifying vegetation types according to their carbon storage potential. Using proxies instead of primary data is often a necessity because obtaining information can be complicated and expensive. For instance, Layke, Mapendembe, Brown, Walpole and Winn (2012) estimate genetic resources services by studying the investment into natural products prospecting. The monetary valuation approach is another way of mapping ecosystem services (e.g. Costanza et al., 1997), but it relies on previous assessments of the services and assigning value to them. The ecosystem service cascade is an alternative method being developed; it investigates the flow of ecosystem services to human wellbeing through biodiversity and ecosystem functions (De Groot, Alkemade, Braat, Hein, & Willemen, 2010; Maes et al., 2012).
Another interesting approach to mapping ecosystem services is to engage local stakeholders and decision-makers. Bryan, Raymond, Crossman and Macdonald (2010) use ecosystem services viewed through social importance, as opposed to monetary value, and state that â€œareas where social value for ecosystem services are at high risk may also be considered to be a management priorityâ€?. They connect social value with spatial indices of abundance, diversity, rarity and risk to ecosystem service values, to produce a map of high priority management areas. Although this work is based on social value of ecosystem services, it coincides with local management priority based on ecological value, and serves as a further justification to use ecosystem services as a conservation management objective.
3. METHODOLOGY 3.1. STUDY AREA The study focuses on the four inhabited islands of the Galapagos province: San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana, located approximately 926 km off the west coast of Ecuador and South America (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). These islands are home to 25,124 regular inhabitants (year 2010, Table 1) and around 3,815 tourists that stay overnight on any given day (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014; INEC, 2010). Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island is the provincial capital, but Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz is the largest city. Table 1. Summary of the inhabited islands of Galapagos Island
Bellavista, Santa Rosa
Puerto Baquerizo Moreno
Intervened area (ha) Conservation
Galapagos National Park (ha)
Total surface area (ha)
Tomas de Berlanga
Puerto Velasco Ibarra
Source: INEC, 2010; Meneses, Arroba, Jaramillo, Verdesoto, & Liger, 2014
There are two major areas on these islands from a conservation perspective: the National Park area and the intervened zone that hosts human activities but also private conservation efforts (Table 1), which were chosen for the study as they are under most threat from anthropogenic activities. The population and tourists alike exhort pressure over the local ecosystems by engaging in activities that represent risk factors, and that are investigated in the present study: urbanization, agriculture, roads, waste disposal, quarries and invasive species. The islands are also home to three terrestrial ecosystems that provide the local population with valuable ecosystem services: the arid ecosystem in the coast, the transitional ecosystem inland and the humid ecosystem in the higher elevations. The Galapagos Archipelago was created relatively recently by volcanic eruptions: the oldest islands of San Cristobal and Española rose approximately 2.8 – 5.6 Myr ago, while the youngest island Fernandina as little as 60,000 – 300,000 years ago (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). The local climate is greatly influenced by four marine 31
currents: the warm Panama current and cold South Equatorial, Humboldt and Cromwell currents. This leads to two main weather seasons, the wet but warm season (December – May), and the dry cool season or garúa (June – November). Due to its size, the Archipelago is considered an eco-region, and is composed of eight major ecosystems: aquifers, humid zone, transitional zone, arid zone, wetlands, coastal zone, subtidal zone and pelagic zone (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). These ecosystems are responsible for providing not only the supporting, provisioning and regulating ecosystem services necessary for human survival, but also the cultural services that position Galapagos so highly in scientific circles and among the best tourist attractions in the world. There are approximately 9,840 species (terrestrial, aquatic and marine) on the Islands that have been described by science, which is not a great number in terms of biodiversity, but a 20.5% rate of endemic species is considered very high (Figure 2; CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Endemic plants are mostly found in the low altitude zone (67%), followed by high altitude zone (29%) and some in the littoral zone (4%) (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Known species in the Galapagos Islands 2500
Vertebrates Number of species
Invertebrates Number of endemic species
Percentage of endemism
Figure 2. Terrestrial, aquatic and marine species described in the Galapagos Archipelago. Source: CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES (2014).
This high rate of endemism is due to principally to the Islands’ distance to major land masses, since the potential for colonization decreases for isolated islands such as Galapagos, which is situated almost 1000 km from South America. The Archipelago was initially claimed by plants and animals that arrived by chance, while human intervention commenced relatively late. The exceptional ecosystems found in the Galapagos have undergone a gradual transformation to accommodate human needs – a trend that has been accelerated in the last decades. This has led to the degradation of the fragile ecosystems and the placement of Galapagos on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2007, due principally to invasive species, immigration and tourism; the Islands were removed from the List in 2010. Tourism was promoted by the Charles Darwin Foundation, the most important NGO locally, as the economic activity most compatible with conservation. With a slow start of cruise-based tourism in the 1960’s, the late 1970’s and 1980’s brought a steady growth of the activity, leading to a tourist boom of the 1990’s and 2000’s which was principally landbased. The importance of this activity hasn’t ceased to grow, in fact, the annual growth rate of tourist arrivals in the last decade has been 8.9% (2003 – 2013), reaching 204,395 visitors in 2013 (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Today, tourism is the primary driver of change in Galapagos, employing officially about 25% of the population and accounting for roughly 47% of the local economy, which attracts strong immigration from the mainland (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Immigration brings with it pressures on various services, such as energy, water supply, waste disposal, urbanization and food supply. The pressures that are not considered in the impact analysis later, but are equally important for understanding the system in a holistic view are described here briefly. Water supply is a permanent issue for human existence on the Islands. For instance, San Cristobal is the only inhabited island that has permanent freshwater springs and fresh water in the public supply network, while other islands have brackish water in the public network, and Floreana Island is the only island with a private desalinization facility of 33
limited capacity (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Along with contamination of water sources from inadequate or inexistent sewage and agriculture, this has led to a very strong need to bring drinking water from the continent, often in single-service plastic bottles, amounting to 5,307 m3 yearly (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). With regards to energy, the Islands are almost completely dependent on the continent, given that only 6% of electricity is produced from renewable sources such as wind or solar power, while the rest is generated from fossil fuels (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). The level of energetic consumption of the residents of Galapagos is almost double that of continental Ecuador, due mainly to tourism and commerce that consume 53% of the fuel, while the production of electricity occupies 22% (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and gas (LPG) must be transported from mainland; for example, in 2012, 17 million barrels of diesel were shipped to Galapagos, which represents 54% of total national consumption for that year (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). Needless to say, transport of such quantities represents a serious potential for catastrophic contamination, cases of which have happened previously in Galapagos. Figure 3 shows the largest islands of the Archipelago, the intervened and protected zones and human settlements; maps further on only show the four islands that are the focus of the analysis.
Figure 3. Base map of the Galapagos Islands. Islands with names in capital letters are the focus of the analysis.
3.2. GEOGRAPHIC DATA The geographic data used in the present work comes from several sources, all of which are in the Projected Coordinate System WGS_1984_UTM_Zone_15S. The shapefiles containing all the islands in the Archipelago (base map) and the ecosystems were created by The Nature Conservancy and CLIRSEN (2006) as part of their project aimed at producing theme cartography for the Galapagos Islands. These shapefiles were created at a resolution of 100 m. A group of authors revised and updated that information in 2014 while creating homogeneous landscape units for the Islands (Meneses, Arroba, Jaramillo, Verdesoto, & Liger, 2014). This shapefile, with a 50 m resolution, contains information relevant to identifying the National Park limits, intervened zone, private conservation areas, vegetation groups (invasive species) and land use (agriculture). 35
The shapefile for roads was developed by updating The Nature Conservancy and CLIRSEN data with the information from the national Ministry of Transport and Public Works (Gualapuro, 2014). The shapefile of mineral concessions (polygon of each quarry) was obtained from the Ecuadorian Agency for Regulation and Control of Mining activities (Agencia de Regulaciรณn y Control Minero (Arcom), 2014), which oversees mine exploitation on the national level. Garbage disposal shapefile (points of disposal sites) was produced by the author using data from the National Program for Integrated Waste Management run by the Environment Ministry (MAE-PNGIDS, 2014).
3.3. METHODOLOGY FLOW CHART The present investigation has three separate processes that are used to produce the final conservation priority map, illustrated in Figure 4: i) creating a cumulative risk map, ii) creating an exposure map and iii) creating a map of areas with high ecosystem value. The three are joined to produce a final Conservation Priority Map that presents ecologically valuable areas that are in risk from human activities.
Figure 4. Methodology flow chart
3.4. CUMULATIVE RISK MAP This current work will use Environmental Risk Surface (ERS), a module of the Protected Areas Tools developed by The Nature Conservancy as an add-in for ArcGIS; it is freely available at http://maps.usm.edu/pat/download.html (Schill & Raber, 2012). ERS is chosen here because it deals specifically with risks that human activities exert over ecosystems, which is the primary focus of the present work. It can later be used as a cost factor for other software discussed in section 0. The ERS tool is intended to spatially identify areas with low and high risk, based on the spatial interaction of determined threat elements (McPherson et al., 2008). These risk elements can be any feature determined as having a negative environmental impact according to planning needs for each project and the available data. They can be anthropogenic risks, as for example airports, fishing, land cover change, or natural risks such as flooding or volcanoes, but the latter are more difficult to predict and evaluate. 37
These risks can be applied to terrestrial, aquatic and marine habitats. ERS can be used to produce single-impact maps that aid in understanding and minimizing a specific risk, or various impacts can be summarized into one composite risk map to guide conservation away from high-risk areas or identify zones that require particular attention. The final output can also be used as a cost element for posterior analysis with Marxan software, as described previously. ERS software was chosen for this work because it creates a decay of a risk element and takes into account the riskâ€™s influence distance, which is most similar to natural conditions where the intensity of the effect declines with distance from the source. This is particularly important in this case, when the exercise is intended to overlap several risks and sum their strength according to their spatial distribution. For example, we can look at the summed risk of a site that is 100 m from a recent diesel spill and 1,500 m from intensive agricultural activity. It is important to recognize that each of these risks has a different strength and distance of influence, and the ERS module is particularly suited to this case as it allows the user to determine the decay distance and intensity according to each specific risk. In this way, we can define the risk at a point that is affected by a strong but short-reaching influence from the diesel spill and a weaker but farther-reaching influence of pesticides and fertilizers from agriculture. The process of using the ERS tool has several steps (Schill & Raber, 2009), the first of which is to identify site-specific threats and obtain the relevant spatial information. Afterwards, the user must determine the relative intensity value between different threats (scale 0-1 or 0-100); this is done by reviewing literature and/or consulting with experts. For example, agriculture can have a stronger effect than mining, which can have a stronger effect than waste disposal. Furthermore, there can be sub-categories within one threat that can have different intensity values. For example, in the category of roads, primary roads may have a stronger effect than secondary roads. Next, the impact zone, or the maximum distance of a negative impact on the ecosystem, must be determined for each risk element either by consulting with experts or by reviewing available literature. Once these preliminary tasks have been accomplished, the user must add this information (intensity value and impact zone) into the attribute table of the risk elements, and then 38
the ERS module can be executed. The summary of determined intensity values and impact zones is described in section 3.4.1. Some of the more important features in ERS are the overlay function and decay type. The overlay function determines how the risk elements are to be calculated â€“ by the maximum value, the sum of all values (most frequently used), mean, minimum, majority, median, minority, range, standard variation and variety. The decay type is an important function as it determines how, if at all, the risk elements decay with distance, and can be set as linear, concave, convex and constant (no decay). These functions can be set differently for each risk element depending on expert opinion; in the present work, the overlay was set as sum and decay type as linear for all risk factors, as suggested in literature (Lessmann, MuĂąoz, & Bonaccorso, 2014; McPherson et al., 2008; Schill & Raber, 2009). Once the above-mentioned specifications have been determined, each chosen risk factor is input into the ERS software, which generates a raster dataset displaying the riskâ€™s intensity and influence distance. This is followed by summing the different risk rasters with the Raster Calculator tool in ArcMap, for which each raster must be previously reclassified to produce an attribute table (Reclassify tool in ArcMap); this value is termed risk value. This creates a final cumulative risk map for the chosen risk elements that can later be analyzed with areas of high ecosystem value. For easier interpretation of the map, the numerical risk value was divided into six equidistant categories: zero, low, medium low, medium, medium high and high risk. 3.4.1. Influence distance and intensity of risk elements The distance of influence was obtained by consulting relevant scientific literature and adapted to the particularities of Galapagos (Table 2), which is explained in the following paragraphs. In case of doubt, the precautionary principle was applied, granting a larger zone of impact. The expert group consulted regarding the relative intensity of the risk elements consisted of five persons (author included); their academic and professional backgrounds includes biology, ecology, environmental engineering and all have experience working with GIS. 39
Table 2. Influence distance and intensity assigned to risk elements Risk element (human activity)
Influence distance (m)
Intensity between subcategories
Intensity between risk elements
Function of number of inhabitants
Lessmann et al., 2014; McPherson et al., 2008
Abbotsford city, 2014; Lessmann et al., 2014; McPherson et al., 2008
Forman & Alexander, 1998; Lessmann et al., 2014; Tanner & Perry, 2007
Small scale and pasture Primary
EPA Victoria, 2012; McPherson et al., 2008; Wickham, 2012 Alanbari, Al-Ansari, Jasim, & Knutsson, 2014; Lee & JonesLee, 2011; Sener, 2004; Yesilnacar, SĂźzen, Kaya, & Doyuran, 2012
Invasive Plants 1,030 0.113 Trueman et al., 2014 species * values apply to San Cristobal and Santa Cruz Islands; values for Floreana and Isabela Islands are presented in Table 3
All risk elements received the same treatment on the four islands except for roads. There is a considerable difference in populations between the islands that is analyzed by the amount of various types of combustible they consume for transport. Given that Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands have the highest population and receive the most tourists, their traffic intensity is considered the highest and therefore influence distances were determined as the largest (Table 3). Isabela Island, on the other hand, has around 2,250 inhabitants and their gasoline consumption is only about 8% of the total dispatched to the Islands (EP Petroecuador, 2012), therefore it has a smaller influence distance. Finally, the roads of Floreana, with roughly 150 inhabitants, were determined to have the smallest impact zone; specific data of gasoline consumption for this island is not available since data for Floreana is combined with San Cristobal.
Table 3. Influence distance for road subcategories Influence distance (m) Road sub-category Primary Secondary Path
San Cristobal and Santa Cruz
* There are no primary roads on Floreana
Another important issue is that of the influence distance of invasive species. The work of Trueman et al. (2014) analyzes the historic spread of seven invasive plant species within the NP on Santa Cruz Island, producing a yearly advance of each species. Based on the available cartographic data, the most common invasive plant in the Archipelago is the guava, occupying 70.8% of the total area under invasive plants (Meneses et al., 2014); therefore, the impact zone of the invasive species risk is based on this plant, which according to Trueman et al. has a yearly expansion of 103 m/yr. Furthermore, in order to represent a longer time period that the current analysis is representative for, the risk is contemplated for a time of 10 years. Therefore, the impact distance is set at 1,030 m (103 m/yr * 10 yr).
3.5. ECOSYSTEM VALUE MAP The conservation importance of an ecosystem is often determined through biodiversity, such as the presence of endemic, rare or endangered species (Cuesta et al., 2013). However, this information is not always available in an extent that would provide good and trustworthy results, in which case an adequate proxy can be used which can represent the missing information. As discussed in section 2.8, ecosystem services are invariably linked to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. It can, therefore, be reasoned that conserving biodiversity is inseparable from conserving ecosystem services, and for that reason ecosystem services are used for analysis in the current research. The process of producing a map of ecosystem value initiated by determining the value of ecosystem services: the services provided by terrestrial ecosystems in Galapagos have been described with a qualification of the trend and importance for each service 41
(Direcciรณn del Parque Nacional Galรกpagos, 2014); this information was numerically valuated for the purpose of this work. The trend is originally described as improved, improving, mixed or worsening, and is accordingly given a numeric value ranging from 1 (improved) to 4 (worsening). The importance of each service is described as high, medium high, medium low and low, and is given a value ranging from 4 (high) to 1 (low). Each ecosystem service in each of the three ecosystems is rated by multiplying its trend and importance; all the services of an ecosystem are then summed to produce an ecosystem value qualification. The highest resulting value means that an ecosystem provides many valuable services that have a deteriorating trend. These values were added into the attribute table of the shapefile as a new column named ecosystem value.
3.6. EXPOSURE MAP Exposure, as used here, pertains to whether an area and its ecosystem services are officially exposed to human activities, referring specifically to the protection status of an area. In order to create the exposure map, the areas of the chosen islands were classified according their conservation status: areas within the National Park were given the qualification of 1, since they are legally protected and their ecosystem services are officially not exposed to damaging human activities; private conservation zones within the inhabited (intervened) area are graded as 2 since some protection is given, while all other intervened areas are graded as 3, as they have no protection and their ecosystem services are under most threat. These values were added into the attribute table of the shapefile as a new column named conservation value. This map is then used together with the cumulative risk map and ecosystem value map in the next step to produce the final conservation priority map.
3.7. CONSERVATION PRIORITY MAP In order to generate a final map that displays areas of highest ecosystem value and human-induced risks, an intersect was performed between the cumulative risk map, the ecosystem value map and the exposure map. A new field named priority value was added to the attribute table, which multiplies the risk value, ecosystem value and conservation value for each new polygon. The resulting map shows in detail the zones that provide 42
highest services but lack protection and are exposed to risks from human activities. In order to facilitate interpretation, the scale of priority value was divided into 5 equidistant value classes termed high, medium high, medium, medium low and low priority, besides areas that receive no priority in the analysis and are accordingly termed zero priority. However, in terms of conservation planning, a more manageable scale and planning units are needed. Hexagon grids are often used in biological sciences, conservation and simulations as an alternative to rectangular grids. They offer advantages for the construction and representation of nearest neighborhood, movement and connectivity as well as to facilitate visualization (Birch, Oom, & Beecham, 2007). Therefore, a hexagonal grid was designed for the Islands as the optimal solution for achieving a representative coverage and to offer sample planning units. Each hexagon covers a surface area of 3 km2, and the grid for the Galapagos Islands was created by using the Create Hexagon tool (available at: http://arcscripts.esri.com/details.asp?dbid=15839) (Mehta, 2008). As the final step, the priority map is processed by the Zonal Statistics tool, applying the hexagon grid as area delimitation. The mean statistics type is applied to the newly created priority value field, given that it determines the average cell value of the hexagon, and thus best reflects the need for conservation action in that area. This final step creates the ultimate map, which is termed the Priority by planning units map.
4. RESULTS The results that are presented in this section refer to the four inhabited islands of the Archipelago, and therefore the cartography only displays those islands. The islands are analyzed in their entirety, covering both the National Park and intervened zone in order to scrutinize all possible areas. In particular cases, the example of Santa Cruz Island is given to show in more detail the results obtained, as this island has the largest resident population and is the hub of tourist activities.
4.1. CUMULATIVE RISK MAP Risks considered in the analysis are urbanization (human settlements), agriculture, garbage disposal, roads, quarries and invasive species, with influence distance and intensity as determined in Table 2. The risk maps for each of these elements indicate that the most affected zones on all the islands are the inhabited areas, as was expected since most human pressures are focused there; the individual risk maps are presented in Figures 5 â€“ 10.
Figure 5. Risk map for agriculture, Galapagos Islands.
Figure 6. Risk map for invasive species, Galapagos Islands.
Figure 7. Risk map for quarries, Galapagos Islands.
Figure 8. Risk map for roads, Galapagos Islands.
Figure 9. Risk map for urbanization, Galapagos Islands.
Figure 10. Risk map for garbage disposal, Galapagos Islands.
The individual risk maps were summed to produce the cumulative risk map that indicates the areas under risk from all analyzed human activities, as presented in Figure 11. This map shows that risk from all the human activities that are contemplated is greatest in the intervened zone, as was expected. However, it also illustrates that some individual risks, such as roads or quarries do not represent a major risk on the whole. This is clearly due to the relative risk value determined by the expert group described earlier.
Figure 11. Cumulative risk map, Galapagos Islands.
It is equally interesting to observe how the summed risk is augmented in areas of overlaps, indicating zones where ecosystem services suffer strongest pressures. This can be noted in the example of Santa Cruz Island in Figure 12. Most of the medium to high risk (orange and red color) is localized in the heart of the intervened zone. There is a Vshaped tract of orange color that represents where the greatest number of risks overlap â€“ principally agriculture, roads and invasive species, which can be observed individually in Figures 5, 6 and 8. Those activities received some of the highest intensity scores so their sum produced a high cumulative risk. Areas with single risk such as the majority of the light green line leading North-East and the green semi-circle in the West are single risks; a road in the case of the line and a small area of invasive species in the circle.
The “bulging” along the road with a light green center is due to the overlap of a quarry and a waste disposal site with the road. Since those risks have a lower intensity, their cumulative risk is not as great as in the case of roads, agriculture and invasive plants in the intervened zone.
Figure 12. Cumulative risk map, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.
4.2. ECOSYSTEM VALUE MAP The valuating of ecosystem services provided by the terrestrial ecosystems of Galapagos was performed by multiplying the trend and importance of each service, which are described qualitatively in the Management plan for protected areas of Galapagos (Dirección del Parque Nacional Galápagos, 2014). Table 4 shows that the arid zone and humid zone ecosystems provide a similar number of services (14 and 15, respectively) and have a similar trend (summing 46 and 43, respectively), but the services in the humid zone have a higher importance, therefore receiving the highest overall score for ecosystem service. 49
Table 4. Value of ecosystem services for terrestrial ecosystems on Galapagos. Terrestrial Ecosystems
Superficial brackish water
Raw materials â€“ biological
Raw materials â€“ geological Renewable energy
Humid zone T
Hydrological regulation and water quality
Regulation & maintaining or local climate and microclimate
Regulation of air quality
Regulation of natural disturbances
Bio-regulation of contamination Maintaining essential ecological processes
Opportunity for scientific knowledge
Cultural identity and sense of belonging
Recreation and ecotourism
ECOSYSTEM SERVICES VALUE 150 126 T=trend of ecosystem service; I=importance of ecosystem service; V=value of ecosystem service (V=T*I)
After applying these values to a map of ecosystems, we can observe the highest-value ecosystem in terms of the services it provides (the humid zone) is located in the higher central areas of the Islands, surrounded by the lowest-value transitional zone, while the arid zone covers the greatest surface bordering the ocean (Figure 13). It is precisely the humid zone (highest value) that hosts most of the intervened areas on the Islands.
Figure 13. Ecosystem value map, Galapagos Islands. â€œN/Aâ€? is a volcanic crater where no ecosystem is registered, so no ecosystem value is assigned.
4.3. EXPOSURE MAP The exposure map indicates the areas according their conservation status, which has three categories: National Park (numeric value: 1), private conservation within the intervened zone (numeric value: 2) and intervened zone (numeric value: 3). The following map shows the four islands under investigation where the private conservation areas within the intervened zones (yellow areas) are small and fragmented, and mostly situated adjoining the National Park boundary. Most of these areas are located on San Cristobal and Santa Cruz Islands.
Figure 14. Exposure map for Galapagos Islands.
4.4. CONSERVATION PRIORITY MAP The final product of this work is the conservation priority map which overlaps the cumulative risk, ecosystem value and exposure maps, and is presented in Figure 15. Note that the surface area of the Islands presented in this section differs from the original extent presented in Figure 2. This is due to the fact that the shapefiles used in the analysis have a different resolution and detail: the shapefiles used to create risk maps and exposure map have a 50 m resolution that show contours with greater detail, while the only available shapefile for ecosystems has a 100 m resolution and was used to create the ecosystem value map. There is a spatial shift between these shapefiles in that the ecosystem shapefile is â€œdisplacedâ€? about 570 m to the southeast from the others. Because of this, the final intersect that created the conservation priority map generated smaller polygons than the original. The most apparent result is that the areas of highest priority are contained within the intervened zone. This is due to the fact that several risk factors are concentrated there (cumulative risk map), as well as the ecosystems that are qualified as having highest value of services and lowest protection (ecosystem value map) and finally, the exposure to human activities is greatest there (exposure map). The areas within the National Park suffer much less risk in general, but it can be observed that areas immediately bordering the intervened zone show risk as well, displayed in orange and yellow on the map. This demonstrates that impacts invade the areas that are considered free of human pressures, and represents an important potential area for conservation actions. Further into the NP, the priority diminishes considerably so that most of the Islands can be considered risk-free in general (depicted in green on the map), and of low conservation priority since their ecosystem services are not in jeopardy. There are however certain areas in the NP that indicate some priority, visualized in bright green color. The priority here arises principally from the risk by invasive species and roads.
Figure 15. Conservation priority map for Galapagos Islands. Note that the â€œemptyâ€? space on Isabela is a volcanic crater that received no ecosystem value, so it has no priority value either.
This information is summarized in Figure 16 for the four islands and in Table 5 per island. We can observe that 92.09% (555,209.3 ha) of the National Park is within the zero priority category, 7.9% (47,583.1 ha) is low priority and 0.02% (91.2 ha) is medium low priority. In contrast, only 3.65% (1,093.8 ha) of the intervened zone is considered zero or low priority, 84.68% (25,373.8 ha) is medium and medium low priority and 11.66% (3,496.0 ha) is medium high and high priority regarding ecosystem services.
Table 5. Surface area and percentage of Galapagos Islands with their conservation priority score. Priority
San Cristobal ha
National Park zero
92,09% 0,83% 18,53%
Figure 16. Proportion of conservation priority areas in the four analyzed Islands.
In the particular example of Santa Cruz Island, most of the priority areas are located within the intervened zone, particularly so for high, medium high and medium priority, occupying a total of 76.70% (10,926.3 ha) of the intervened zone (Figure 17). On the other hand, these categories are not found within the NP. Areas of zero priority are virtually non-existent in the intervened zone, covering only 47.2 ha, while within the NP they constitute 83.53% of the area (68,486.0 ha).
National Park zero
Intervened zone zero
83,53% 1,07% 20,06%
Figure 17. Proportion of Santa Cruz Island according to conservation priority score.
Finally, to provide a more generalized overview of the priority map and facilitate conservation planning, a hexagonal grid was employed to summarize a particular score or value. In this respect, 3 km2 hexagons were used to calculate the mean priority value, producing a conservation priority map for ecosystem services on Galapagos Islands in terms of planning units (Figure 18). The map shows that the highest priority is localized within the intervened zone as was the case in the detailed map presented previously. The priority is not even so much around towns, bur mostly in the rural zone where there are combined pressures of agriculture, invasive species and roads.
Figure 18. Conservation priority map by planning units, Galapagos Islands.
5. DISCUSSION 5.1. RISK MAPS The risk maps offer an interesting spatial perspective into where the highest pressures or risks from human activities are expected to occur. Several points of the individual risks deserve special mention. Firstly, some activities, namely quarries and waste disposal are situated entirely within the National Park limits, representing a serious risk to an area that, at least in name, is under full protection by the Ecuadorean State. These activities may occupy very punctual and small surface areas, but it is troubling that they should be allowed in the first place as this may represent the idea of “tolerance” for future inadequate uses of the NP area. Additionally, the presence of roads in natural areas in order to access these points can cause the intrusion of other human activities such as hunting or recreation (Trombulak & Frissell, 2000), potentially leading to trampling of local vegetation, disturbing of wildlife or littering. Furthermore, the main road of the Archipelago, the one connecting Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) and the local airport on the adjoining Baltra Island passes in its entirety through the National Park, practically dividing the island into two parts. It has been shown that this road represents a strong barrier for the local lizard population and birds, in that it causes fatalities and injury and prevents free movement of lizards (Gottdenker et al., 2008; Jiménez - Uzcátegui & Betancourt, 2008; Tanner et al., 2007; Tanner & Perry, 2007). Information for other species is not available, but it is likely that the road may represent a similar barrier and risk for them as well. Also, there are other roads that connect towns on the coast with agricultural zones inland, which invariably pass through the NP since this corridor is not considered as part of the official intervened zone. Secondly, the data shows that the invasive species have spread well into the NP and in the next 10 years will overcome new areas if left unmanaged. A particular point of interest in this respect is a population of invasive cedar on the North-Northwest part of Santa Cruz Island (Figure 6), which may be small at present but in 10 years’ time might occupy
around 440 ha if left unattended, and therefore presents a serious risk to local biodiversity as such. This point is of particular concern given that monitoring of invasive species in inaccessible areas through the use of remote sensing techniques in not wide-spread in Galapagos and presents certain difficulties, so it is possible that there are invaded areas that have not been catalogued and included into this analysis. In this respect, there are two studies in particular that need to be mentioned. One is an investigation by The Nature Conservancy and CLIRSEN (2006), which used satellite images and local verification of data to investigate the presence of invasive species on 25,000 ha on Isabela, Santiago, Santa Cruz, Santa MarĂa and San Cristobal islands. The project emphasizes that invasive plants, in this case blackberry, guava, cascarilla and apple rose, are most frequently found in association with other vegetation, which makes digital classification difficult. Although the study does not intend to go further than catalogue the current presence of these invasive species, it can serve as a valuable base map for further projects and monitoring plans. The other study, performed by Trueman et al. (2014), looks at seven invasive plants within the National Park on Santa Cruz Island by mapping them from satellite images and field observations. They determine the speed at which the plants spread from the time they were initially recorded, but also warn that the method is not suited to all plants since some are not present in the canopy. Species such as river spiderwort (Tradescantia fluminensis) - a ground-cover plant, and blackberry (Rubus niveus) - grows underneath higher-canopy vegetation, avoid detection with this technique as they are not visible in the canopy. These two particular studies may be used by local conservation managers to target specific sites that are currently occupied by invasive vegetation, while the difficulties encountered by them should be taken into account for improving future monitoring projects. The current analysis may be used to point to potential spread areas that should be taken into consideration for such monitoring activities.
With regard to urban areas and their quality, many authors indicate that there is growing need to include the concept of urban ecosystem services planning in fast-expanding cities, which may relate to the case of the Galapagos Islands, as they are experiencing fast population growth with strong spatial limitations (as discussed in chapter 3.1). Microclimate regulation, air quality, soil stabilization, water retention, recreation, education and provisioning of food are some of the more commonly mentioned benefits of urban environments. As mentioned by Sieber and Pons (2015), green areas in cities may increase these services, and enhance biodiversity by decreasing habitat fragmentation, a frequent problem in urban areas. However, scientists emphasize the need for data with sufficient resolution to account for all green areas and other empirical data if we strive to find an approach that may assist decision-makers in improving the environmental situation and quality of life in cities (Kaczorowska, Kain, Kronenberg, & Haase, 2015; Sieber & Pons, 2015). It is clear that dense urban areas in Galapagos would benefit from this approach, especially to compensate for the negative impacts of urban densification to local biodiversity and the quality of life in urban areas. Another risk that became evident in this analysis is agriculture, not only from the spread of invasive species as discussed earlier, but also from the potential for erosion, loss of soil organic carbon, nutrient imbalance, contamination of soil and groundwater, habitat fragmentation, biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation in general, which thus produces conflicts between food production and nature conservation (Montanarella et al., 2016; Stehle & Schulz, 2015; Wantzen & Mol, 2013). An interesting meta-analysis observed that taxonomic groups respond differently to different agricultural land management practices and their scales, principally that plants respond more to local (within farm) management factors while vertebrates to landscape (around farms) factors (Gonthier et al., 2014). This implies that a variety of methods should be considered in Galapagos that cover both the agricultural land itself and the surrounding area, if we are to institute an adequate conservation strategy that protects the highest number of biodiversity elements. However, we must keep in mind that the development of any management option of agricultural zones (or any other land use) first
requires a comprehensive quantitative analysis of field data, which still does not exist in Galapagos. The cumulative risk map answers the first research question of this work, identifying that the areas under most pressure from human activities are the inhabited zones on the four analyzed islands, due to the fact that all activities are focused in that restricted space. The risk spreads into the protected zone, affecting particularly the space adjoining the intervened zone where invasive plants and agriculture have strongest influence. Further into the NP, most pressures focus around invasive species and roads that traverse the islands. Regarding the combined risk analysis, similar work overlapping risks has been developed in recent years. For example, McPherson et al. (2008) use the ERS tools for conservation planning in Jamaica with the goal of identifying the best areas for expanding the protected area network, while taking into account specific threats. They identify the most important human activities on the island that have a negative impact on terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity, such as agriculture, urban areas, tourism, roads, mines, fishing, sewage outfalls, dams, water extraction, ports and airports. The final map indicates a mosaic of high-risk areas that can be a valuable contribution for the decisionmaking process of selecting optimal sites for conservation based solely on perceived risk, or can be further analyzed with another software as a cost for potential sites, as is demonstrated in the following example. Similar to this, Troya Cordero (2013) analyzes the impacts of human activities to the Napo watershed in Ecuador. She considers activities such as agriculture, water consumption, hydroelectric plants, and oil extraction, among others, to create a human threat map. This information is used to generate a predictive model of aquatic ecosystem integrity, and finds that the highest and most wide-spread human risk is around cities due to added pressure from human settlement, agriculture, petroleum extraction and roads that all intervene in a small area. She concludes that oil activity and main roads are the best indicators for predicting aquatic ecosystem integrity.
With regard to risks to ecosystem services, Leman, Ramli and Khirotdin (2016) applied GIS-based modeling to assess environmentally sensitive areas in Malaysia, where they note that the need to reflect the uniqueness and functions of the local ecosystems has historically been done by one or two indicators, which do not reflect the complexity of an area such as particular islands. By finding the most appropriate data set for a particular goal, they argue that a sensitivity evaluation may help local planners determine development areas that protect not only the ecosystems and natural heritage, but also the livelihood and socio-cultural patterns of the community. Similarly, Fernandes, Guiomar and Gil (2015) evaluate strategies for conservation planning on small islands, where they stress that islands always have particularities that distinguish them each other and from continental systems. Therefore, island conservation must balance environmental, social and economic interests and rely on the participation of local stakeholders not only to receive their opinion but also build their own conservationoriented behaviors. The discussion of risk elements presented in this chapter exemplifies how the use of upto-date local indicators, adequate cartographic data and application of a GIS software can lay the base on which an integrated governance model should be developed in collaboration with all the stakeholders.
5.2. ECOSYSTEM VALUE MAP The ecosystem value map presents the services of an ecosystem according to their trend and importance, indicating that areas of highest-value ecosystems belong to the humid ecosystem, situated mostly inland and at higher elevation. This ecosystem received the highest valuation because it provides the most valuable services that have a deteriorating trend, particularly the regulating services and provisioning of freshwater. The second highest value is calculated for the coastal arid ecosystem that delivers the unique services of providing superficial freshwater and brackish water. It is also interesting to observe that the economically important cultural services of recreation/ecotourism and education have a deteriorating trend here.
The transitional zone ecosystem, which is located in a band between the humid and arid zones, was calculated as having the least value. Its provisioning and regulating services are all in a mixed or worsening trend, but it provides fewer services compared to the other two ecosystems, so the final value calculated for this ecosystem is the lowest.
5.3. EXPOSURE MAP The exposure map designates areas according to the level of exposure to human activities that their ecosystem services might suffer. The highest value is given to areas where ecosystem services are most exposed to human activities, which is the intervened zone. However, there are small patches of private conservation that are taken into consideration as less exposed, since they offer some protection, but less than the National Park zone. Although these private conservation areas may have a very small surface coverage averaging 4.6 ha, these spaces have a natural vegetation cover without extensive invasive species, according to the source shapefile used in the analysis (Meneses et al., 2014). Such spaces may represent important patches for preserving biodiversity in impacted areas. Schelhas and Greenberg (1996) emphasize that forest patches often lack some of the diversity found in large forest tracts, but compared to the alternative land uses, they increase local diversity and can provide benefits such as refuge for certain native species. Furthermore, they often provide habitat for animals with a small home range and species that are tolerant of human disturbance. In bird conservation studies, Fischer and Lindenmayer (2002) showed that even quite small patches can contribute greatly to species richness. They found that areas as small as 1 ha were used by many of the studied species, indicating that these patches might play an important role in conservation and restoration efforts. Arroyo-RodrĂguez, Pineda, Escobar, and BenĂtez-Malvido (2009) similarly found that patches under 5 ha can often contain high diversity of the original tropical rainforest. They conclude that conservation and restoration of small patches is necessary to successfully preserve plant diversity, as they often host diverse communities of native plants, including endangered species.
In answer to the second research question proposed initially, regarding which terrestrial ecosystem provides highest-value services and what is its exposure status, the analysis reveals that this ecosystem is the humid zone. A large part of this ecosystem on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal Islands is located within the highest-exposure area since it is the heart of the inhabited area. However, the exposure of the humid zone is very small on Isabela and Floreana Islands, since the NP zone occupies most areas of this ecosystem on these two islands.
5.4. CONSERVATION PRIORITY MAP The conservation priority map identifies areas that should receive most immediate conservation attention based on the state of the ecosystem services they provide and human-induced risks they suffer. The insight provided by the final map confirms the hypothesis that there are areas of high-value terrestrial ecosystems that are currently under pressure from human risks and deserve conservation action. The map also answers the final question of this work, regarding which areas should be prioritized for conservation action based on the value and status of the ecosystem services they provide, as is explained in detail in this section. The information for the four analyzed islands is that within the inhabited zone, areas that are marked as having conservation priority are wide-spread as a result of a combination of most of the human activities, degraded ecosystem services and almost no protection. Only 0.16% can be considered zero priority, while 80.37 % is medium, medium high and high priority. A focal point for action might be private properties that are already designated to conservation, since they can often preserve important elements of biodiversity, as was explained earlier. On the other hand, 92.24% of the National Park is within the category of zero priority, giving way to conclude that the NP can be considered in good conservation condition regarding the ecosystem services it provides. However, there are some human activities that lie within or traverse the NP and cause risk, such as quarries, waste disposal or roads, as evidenced in section 4.1. The resulting surface area with some level of priority within the NP may be considered low, but the category of a national park is constituted precisely to eliminate human pressures, stating that its characteristics and purpose (among others) 64
are: “maintaining the area in its natural condition, in order to preserve ecological, aesthetic and cultural traits, prohibiting any exploitation or occupation” (Ley Forestal y de Conservación de Áreas Naturales y Vida Silvestre, 2004, p. 19). It is not reasonable to appeal that parts of the intervened zone be included into the National Park, but many conservation options still exist for improving the condition of the ecosystem services that are currently under pressure and some general terms for conservation actions may be stated considering the information gathered from the individual risk maps. There are several focal points where conservation efforts are necessary, and based on the risk maps it can be concluded that this is principally due to invasive plants and agriculture, and in less extent to roads. These areas are focused principally in the parts adjoining the inhabited zone, where the clearest course of action would be strong management measures for invasive plants, leading, hopefully, to their eradication. Given the high cost of eradication campaigns (Rentería, Gardener, Panetta, Atkinson, et al., 2012), efforts should concentrate on preventing the spread of these species further into the National Park. Monitoring, long-term planning and financial support are crucial at this point. Certain human activities that pass into the protected areas clearly cannot be avoided, particularly traffic necessary for communication between rural areas and towns and with the continent (airport), but there should be clear and strict guidelines to minimize potential risks for the surrounding habitat. Some of the possible measures could be wildlife crossings that can be designed as vegetated overpasses or underpasses with “funnel” fencing to direct the animals into them and away from the road. Also very important are public awareness campaigns. There are publicity posters in several key points along the main road that traverses Santa Cruz Island warning drivers to reduce speed because of animal mortality, but more awareness campaigns, speed bumps and police speed control would probably be effective management tools. There are also some activities that take place in the NP and can be avoided or minimized, such as waste disposal or quarries. Waste management practices are improving on Galapagos as the local authorities have started to implement classification and recycling 65
on Santa Cruz and San Cristobal (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014) but more should be done to prevent disposal within the NP itself, possibly by finding alternative locations within the intervened zone. Regarding quarries, the need for construction material cannot be avoided but it can be diminished by using alternative construction materials and techniques. One possibility is to increase the amount of glass being reused in the production of construction materials such as paving stones. This technique is already being used in Galapagos (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014), but it might be interesting to examine the possibility of expanding it to other elements, such as bricks. Another possibility is taking advantage of demolition and concrete rubble as alternative materials for road construction that would decrease the need for locally-sourced gravel. But also very important is to improve the zoning of the Islands, since there are problems of lowoccupancy and many vacant housing units (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). This leads to the conclusion that no new housing construction is necessary, but that the existing infrastructure should be used more efficiently. The conservation priority map by hexagonal planning units can serve as an important management tool. The calculated mean values can be examined by local conservation authorities and experts to assign a cutoff threshold that determines a value where action is most urgently needed (McPherson et al., 2008). The same mean values by hexagons can be used as a cost input for Marxan software, as was explained previously in section 0. Marxan employs any user-defined cost that is deemed pertinent to the situation, applies a penalty for not achieving a conservation goal and uses boundary length of an area in order to propose a protected area network (Ball & Possingham, 2000). One such example is the work of Lessmann et al. (2014), who analyzed risks from human activities to high-biodiversity areas. They first produce a species distribution model for 809 terrestrial species by using Maxent and Bioclim data, and determine conservation goals for each species. They continue by assessing how the current protected areas achieve the conservation targets for the selected species and choose additional areas that are needed to reach those targets by using Marxan algorithm. The â€œcost of conservationâ€?, a necessary input for Marxan, was defined in the study as the environmental impact of 66
human activities (human population density, agriculture and cattle farming, mining and oil concessions, oil wells, dams, roads and airports) and calculated using the ERS software. The risk map shows that greatest risk is centered in large patches of the Andes and southwest part of the coast, with smaller concentrations in northeast Amazon and coast. By summing the importance of a potential area for conservation and environmental risk, they produced a map of conservation priority and feasibility for the potential areas. Their findings indicate considerable inadequacy of the current protected areas network in Ecuador; principally, only 38,2% of the species achieve the conservation goals within the current network, while the rest are either insufficiently protected or completely outside of it, and secondly, identify the areas that should be given priority for inclusion into the protected area network. Similarly, Cuesta et al. (2013) identify gaps and conservation priority for continental Ecuador using Maxent and parameters such as climate change, human settlements, oil industry infrastructure and mining, among others, to generate scenarios indicating areas where biodiversity is most threatened. A final summary of these scenarios is then overlapped with the current protected areas (Sistema Nacional de Ă reas Protegidas â€“ SNAP) to identify zones that present gaps of conservation. They find that roughly 50% of the areas that should be prioritized are found in four of the 24 provinces, and argue that currently SNAP does not provide enough cover to the studied groups of flora and fauna. Another interesting work to consider is that of Esselman and Allan (2011), who similarly use Marxan software for the design of freshwater protected areas in Mesoamerica. By modeling the distribution of 63 fish species using Maxent, they identify the principal areas that hold the highest biodiversity. They complement this by performing a Marxan analysis that takes into account a cost analysis executed by ERS software. This analysis contemplates human risk factors that are given influence distance and intensity: agriculture, urban land cover, roads and location of villages. The final output of the study is a portfolio of suitable sites considering fish biodiversity and efficiency of conservation, which promotes connectivity and takes into account topographic barriers. Based on these examples, one might argue that a possible next step for this work would be to continue with a Marxan analysis, but since the Galapagos National Park is already 67
established and at present covers almost 97% of the Islands, it is not plausible to change its boundaries to include more territory. It might be interesting on an academic level, but with the understanding that it has no practical use in this particular case.
5.5. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS The straight-forwardness of the technique demonstrated here shows that ERS software is not complicated to use and gives easily understandable results and visualizations, so its further application may be of great use in planning exercises in other areas. This may be particularly applicable on a local level where there are incentives for the protection of natural areas. For example, the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador started a project called Socio Bosque in 2013 that gives financial incentives to individuals and communities that voluntarily set aside areas of natural forest, mangrove or pรกramo (a typical Andean highelevation ecosystem), and perform restoration of impacted areas (MAE, n.d.). The approach described here in combination with Maxent may be a useful tool to identify which of the proposed areas in fact contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, ecosystem services and reduction of climate change. Analyzing human impacts that exist in the area and overlapping them with known biodiversity and ecosystem services the zone provides may be a simple yet visually understandable way of determining areas that are valuable and important enough to be included into the program. Furthermore, the National Plan for Good Living (SENPLADES, 2013) states as one of its targets, to increase by 2017 the proportion of continental territory under conservation or environmental management to 35.9% (target 7.1) and the surface of marine-coastal territory to 817,000 ha (target 7.2). The approach described here can be of great service in determining which areas in particular are suitable for conservation or management based on the risks that are considered most important in each region. A particularly good example of the importance of this kind of analysis in planning for future protected or managed areas is given in the study of the conservation gaps for continental Ecuador mentioned earlier (Cuesta et al., 2013). They identified that almost 72% of the 4,437 endemic vascular plants found in continental Ecuador have no
representation at all within the SNAP protected zones. Also, 32 of the 49 SNAP areas are smaller than 100,000 ha, which is not considered sufficient to maintain a population of landscape species in the long term. Finally, they identify asymmetry of the SNAP areas, stating that five of the largest protected areas are in the Amazon and Andean region, while only two are situated in the Coast. Prior consideration for the actual importance of the potential protected or managed area is therefore crucial if we wish to avoid wasting social, economic and natural resources. An important limitation to the current work is the availability and quality of information, adhering to the “rule” that the results of an analysis are only as good as the data that is used. One of the clearest examples of this is the “loss” of surface extent of the Islands calculated for the final conservation priority map. Since the original shapefiles used in the analysis have a different precision and have a small spatial shift, their overlap is not perfect and causes a loss of data during the final analysis. This is an excellent example of the importance of having data that should be of equal, and preferably high, quality. The information used here is the latest available, but it still does not cover other important pressures such as sewage that is discharged into the environment with practically no treatment and presents an important point contamination for soil that receives the waste waters from cesspools and underground aquifers to where these waters may infiltrate. For example, elevated concentrations of coliform bacteria have been found in drinking water on Isabela and Santa Cruz Islands (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014). The same report states that a wastewater treatment plant on San Cristobal had elevated organic matter in the water to be processed, which is clearly to be expected before treatment, but this goes to show that if such water is discharged directly into the environment, it can cause eutrophication of natural waters. Illegal construction within the rural areas, where no tourist infrastructure is in theory allowed, should be taken into account as well. A recent report states that current construction processes create urban dispersion and colonization of new spaces, often belonging to the National Park (CEPROEC-IAEN & SENPLADES, 2014); however, there is no precise information available.
Furthermore, it would be interesting to map and study the impact of tourist visitation routes within the NP limits. Although tourist groups follow strict visitation schedules and are monitored by qualified guides as part of the SIMAVIS management plan (Reck et al., 2010), there are still some pressures exerted over the visitation sites, such as trampling, erosion, invasive species, presence of garbage, among other (ECOLAP & Conservaciรณn Internacional Ecuador, 2008). Another very important point is the quality of information. This is particularly true in case of invasive plants whose territory increases each year and is more difficult to predict than the simple method that is used here of how many meters they spread yearly. As a final remark, using ecosystem services may be an adequate proxy in lack of better information or to highlight the economic side of the value of conservation, but the use of particular biodiversity data might be a better option in areas as important to science as the Galapagos Islands. This information was not available for the purpose of the present analysis, but in anticipation that it might be one day, it would be recommendable to include it into a future research. It should be complemented with aquatic information as well, given that drinking water is an extremely limited resource in the Archipelago and in danger from contamination from agriculture and waste waters.
6. CONCLUSIONS The present analysis looks at ecosystem services and human risks to their conservation in order to analyze areas that represent a priority for conservation. Zones with highest-value ecosystem services are located within the humid ecosystems, where some of the rural areas are situated. Of the remaining two ecosystems, the arid coastal zone receives the second highest score for its services and the transitional ecosystem the third. Highest exposure to potentially damaging human activities can be found within the inhabited zone, but there exist small patches of private conservation that seem not to be occupied by invasive species and might be important for preserving local biodiversity in impacted areas. Accordingly, the areas of the humid ecosystem that are within the intervened zone can be considered most valuable in terms of ecosystems services and most exposed to human activities. Likewise, risks arising from human activities are primarily located within the inhabited zone, where agriculture, towns and villages have the strongest impact. There are also areas in the National Park itself that host human activities such as roads and quarries and are home to invasive species. In consequence, the cumulative risk map indicates that strongest risk is within the intervened zone, with some smaller focal areas within the NP itself. The final conservation priority analysis reveals that on all the islands, the highest priority is focused within the intervened zone, but the need for conservation action spills into the National Park, however, with a smaller intensity. This is due primarily to invasive species and roads, as can be observed from the individual risk maps. It is important to remember that the final priority map sums all the risks studied and how they relate to important ecosystem services and exposure, which visualizes most of the human threats that Galapagos faces. However, any serious conservation planning needs to contemplate the individual risks as well, since not all of these elements may be considered equally important to reach a certain management goal. This work takes a step into spatially directing actions that will enable a harmonious coexistence between humans and the protected environment, where the negative 71
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The Galapagos Archipelago is a world-renowned scientific hotspot where the unique biodiversity has led to the declaration of the Galapagos I...
Published on Feb 14, 2017
The Galapagos Archipelago is a world-renowned scientific hotspot where the unique biodiversity has led to the declaration of the Galapagos I...