“Let’s Stop Inva-Zor” inspires and teaches many Cristobaleños about how to combat invasive species that put Galapagos at risk

This work was created within the framework of the “Native Action” educational campaign to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in the Galapagos archipelago.

Currently, the risk of introduction and spread of invasive species represents one of the main threats to the unique biodiversity of the Galapagos, as well as to its economic development, and the social and health welfare of its inhabitants. Thus, the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) is interested in the study of the effects of invasive species and the awareness of the local community.

According to Leidy Apolo, coordinator of the Link with the Community program of the GSC, “The Galapagos Science Center is a local partner of the Native Action campaign. Within the agreement, we are custodians of the educational materials with which the play is made, such as the theater, the set elements, and the puppets. We also participate in giving life to the characters when the show has to be exhibited. Within our program, it is essential to create awareness in people regarding the risks generated by invasive species and the importance of their collaboration to face them.”


Gonzalo Rivas Torres, professor at the USFQ Plant Ecology Laboratory and GSC researcher, is currently carrying out two research projects related to invasive species. The first is related to the invasive plant species American Cedar (Cedrella odorata) and the second is a mapping project that seeks to define where the main invasive species are in Galapagos. Among the main invasive species, we can name plants such as guava (Psidium guajava), blackberry (Rubus niveus), and the husk (Cinchona pubescens), or animals such as ants, mice, cats, and the fly (Philonis downsi). The presences of invasive species such as these are linked to the growth of the population, tourism, and the flow of maritime and air transport.

One of the strategies that “Native Action” implements to generate social commitment is to present the puppet play “Let´s Stop Inva-Zor” which is aimed at students from 2nd to 7th grade. In order to make the topic of invasive species interesting to this age group, the puppet show features Inva Zor, a character that represents all the invasive species, who is happy in the Galapagos because he has no natural predators. This makes him powerful, so he wants to invade all the islands for himself and his minions. Eibigi, an ABG agent, works hard to track him down. In the play, two children then join him and create a patrol of Galapagos guardians to catch him.

According to Ana María Loose, director of EPI Ecuador and manager of the Native Action Project, “The project established the first baseline of knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding the problem of invasive species. By 2025 we seek to increase 50% of the population’s knowledge and attitudes and 20% of the behavior of students, merchants, and heads of household for the eradication of invasive species.”

The “Native Action” campaign, part of the “Education for Sustainability: Invasive Species” project, is possible thanks to the financing of the Sustainable Environmental Investment Fund and Fund for the Control of Invasive Species of Galapagos, in support of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Galapagos Government Council, the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and the Agency for the Regulation and Control of Biosafety and Quarantine for Galapagos “ABG”, and executed by the Consortium: Conservation International Ecuador, Ecology Project International, and WWF-Ecuador.


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In 2022, the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) and the broader UNC & USFQ Galapagos Initiative will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. We are proud to announce the World Summit on Island Sustainability scheduled to be held on June 26–30, 2022 at the Galapagos Science Center and the Community Convention Center on San Cristobal Island.

The content of the World Summit will be distributed globally through social media and results documented through papers published in a book written as part of the Galapagos Book Series by Springer Nature and edited by Steve Walsh (UNC) & Carlos Mena (USFQ) as well as Jill Stewart (UNC) and Juan Pablo Muñoz (GSC/USC). The book will be inclusive and accessible by the broader island community including scientists, managers, residents, tourists, and government and non-government organizations.

While the most obvious goal of organizing the World Summit on Island Sustainability is to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the GSC and the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, other goals will be addressed through special opportunities created as part of our operational planning of the World Summit.

For instance, we seek to elevate and highlight the Galapagos in the island conservation discourse, seeking to interact with other island networks in more obvious and conspicuous ways to benefit the Galapagos Islands, the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, and the world. We will seize the opportunity to further develop the I2N2 – International Islands Network-of-Networks. Further, we wish to highlight and emphasize multiple visions of a sustainable future for the Galapagos Islands and we cannot do this alone. Therefore, engaging the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, the Government Council of Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park, and local Galapagos authorities, including government and non-government organizations and local citizen groups, is imperative.

The Galapagos Science Center on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Borrowing from Hawaii’s and Guam’s Green Growth Program and the Global Island Partnership, we wish to examine existing global programs that emphasize island sustainability and their incorporation into life, policies, and circumstances in the Galapagos Islands. We will also seek to enhance our connections with the institutional members of our International Galapagos Science Consortium and expand the Consortium through the recruitment of other member institutions. We will also work to benefit islands and their local communities by working with citizen groups as well as important NGOs who seek to improve the natural conditions in the Galapagos and diminish the impact of the human dimension on the future of Galapagos’ ecosystems.

Lastly, we will use the World Summit to benefit UNC & USFQ and our constituencies through a strong and vibrant communication plan about the World Summit, creating corporate relationships as sponsors, identifying funding goals through donors, and benefiting our study abroad program for student engagement in the Galapagos Islands. We plan to develop and issue a Galapagos Sustainability Communique after the World Summit that includes the vision and insights of all its participants for a sustainable Galapagos with applicability to global island settings.

We are eager to hear your perspective and have you join us at the World Summit on Island Sustainability!