Land use management in the Galapagos: a preliminary study on reducing the impacts of invasive plant species through sustainable agriculture and payment for ecosystem services.
Terrestrial invasive species have been identified as one of the largest threats to endemic plants and wildlife in Galapagos, and their spread remains one of the biggest challenges for the region. The management of these species is a common link among all land-use activities, and impacts all residents as economic activities in Galapagos are linked to its status as a unique landscape. The study aims, through the use of key informant interviews, policy documents and literature, to provide new insights into plant invasive species management by exploring two land-use interventions-and the associated challenges and opportunities-currently being proposed by policymakers, academics, and other relevant actors. These are (a) local sustainable agricultural production and (b) policies and mechanisms, specifically the 'Buen vivir' paradigm with/and payments for ecosystem services. It explores how these can create bridges and be beneficial to both conservation and development. However, although the initiatives offer real opportunities to manage and control invasive species, challenges remain in the form of how these activities will be carried out and by whom. Findings show that probable success is dependent on community inclusion with coordinated and integrated approaches from robust institutions with connectivity among land-use actors/managers. In addition, support is needed for organisations/stakeholders that are currently tackling the invasive species issue. Studies on land use remain crucial as relatively contained and pristine landscapes such as Galapagos are likely to be increasingly important as a means to detect human-induced alterations at the frontiers of ecology.