Workshops in Galapagos: New international tools for the study of exotic species in the islands

The workshop for the application of the (S)EICAT (Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa / Socio-economic Impact Classification for Alien Taxa) standards was held to quantify the impacts of exotic species at USFQ Galapagos. The new EICAT standard has been developed to provide a standardized methodology for measuring and comparing the environmental impacts of alien species.

The workshop was organized by the Galapagos Science Center (GSC), the University of San Francisco Quito (USFQ), and the University of Friborg (Switzerland), in partnership with the Galapagos National Park (GNP), and with the support of the Galapagos Conservancy and the Leading House for the Latin American Region, to discuss the applicability of the EICAT standards (Environmental Impact Classification for Alien Taxa) and SEICAT (Socio-economic Impact Classification for Alien Taxa).

Pieter van ‘t Hof, professor and researcher at USFQ and the GSC added, “The methodology EICAT and SEICAT are so universal that they can be applied to terrestrial or marine species. But to find the efficiency of the workshop, examine ourselves in three different groups of the terrestrial part: vertebrates, invertebrates, mainly insects, and plants.”

Group Photo
Dr. Anna Probert & Prof. Dr. Sven Bacher

The new EICAT standard has been developed to provide a standardized methodology for measuring and comparing the environmental impacts of alien species in terms of their magnitude.

On the other hand, the SEICAT standard, currently under development, serves to classify exotic species based on the magnitude of the socio-economic impact that they can cause in different parts of the human populations where they are extracted.

EICAT provides simple, objective, and transparent approaches to classify alien species’ impacts across taxa and invasion scenarios. EICAT has recently been adopted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a global standard.

Group Photo of the Participants

Pieter commented, “Most people know that there are a lot of initiatives going on here, and we would just like to share another tool that bolsters your investigations and might be useful as an internationally adopted tool. We came up with the idea of ​​training the trainer. We believe that it would be good to have another tool in the toolbox to see if it works locally for the research carried out here in the Galapagos.”

The objective of the workshop was to introduce these tools and offer training on how to apply them properly so that the participants can develop their own activities to assess the impacts of invasive species in the Galapagos Islands.

As a result, new and imperative opportunities for collaboration and exchange of knowledge and experiences were fostered among the 23 participants. This was made possible thanks to the alliance between the Galapagos National Park and Ecolap, and the support of the Galapagos Conservancy, House Leader for the Latin American Region, Belmont Forum, Biodiversa, and InvasiBES.

Pieter added, “Actually, many of today’s participants have heard of EICAT or SEICAT, and we are very interested in hearing about their experience with the tool. It mainly serves to compare impacts of perhaps similar species in Japan or New Zealand or here in Galapagos in a structured and similar way. We are here really to try to start working with it and see that all the institutions can make their own decision on whether this tool is something that they could use here.”

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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!