“Steve Walsh NASA Grant on Galapagos Islands”

Project Goals

Our project is designed to synthesize land cover/land use change (LCLUC) patterns on islands and to assess the drivers of change. The following summarizes are approach: (1) Perform a meta-analysis of global islands by focusing on the socio-economic, geographic, and biophysical drivers of LCLUC, and assess the role of satellite remote sensing for characterizing the composition, pattern, and structure of LCLUC on islands; (2) Primary Island Sites (Hawaiian Islands, Galapagos Islands, Puerto Rico) are characterized by an assembled social-ecological data set, including, population census data, tourism data, environmental data, and a blended multi-resolution, satellite image stack; (3) Develop a dynamic systems model of the Primary Island Sites, informed through statistical analyses and case study models, and determine if a single synthetic model can be generated that is capable of capturing social-ecological dynamics to understand the drivers of LCLUC on each island; (4) Once the operating protocols have been tested and dynamic system models developed for the Primary Island Sites, we will perform sensitivity analyses to assess model performance by varying data inputs of stocks, flows, rates of exchange, and feedback loops to determine the impacts of variables on model outcomes; (5) Expand the analysis of the generalizability of the model by fitting it to Maui Island, Hawaii using population census data, tourism data, environmental data GIS data layers, and satellite assets to assess LCLUC patterns and the drivers of change. Through the analysis of the Primary and Secondary Island Sites, we explain the impacts of tourism, demographics, environmental, and economic transitions on broader LCLUC issues, decision-making, and the politics of change.

Papers identified in our meta-analysis by natural hazard type.

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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!