Exploring the Hidden Relationship between Farmers’ Livelihoods and Conservation in the Galapagos Islands

Authors: Francisco Laso*, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Agricultural Geography, Environment
Keywords: Galapagos, Agriculture, Conservation, Land Use, Land Cover, Tortoises, Invasive species
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Did you know that people grow crops in the Galapagos Islands? Before tortoises and blue-footed boobies drew hundreds of thousands of annual visitors to the “Enchanted Islands", agriculture used to be the region’s main economic engine. Agricultural areas in the Galapagos are entirely surrounded by protected areas, which means that whatever happens on one side will inevitably affect the other side. However, productive areas are usually conceptualized and managed separately from protected areas. This project combines quantitative and qualitative data to explore the interconnections between the socioeconomic and ecological dimensions of agroecosystems in the Galapagos. In collaboration with local institutions, we created the first high-resolution land cover map of agricultural areas in the Galapagos using satellite and drone imagery. This map will be useful for both conservation and agricultural sectors; combining land use and land cover data with ecological data can help us understand how farming practices affect (and are affected by) tortoise migration patterns and invasive plant distributions. Agriculture and conservation are intrinsically linked, and both sectors can benefit by integrating each other’s perspectives into their management practices.

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