CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Wednesday March 30, 2011
CNH Tours friend featured in major science magazine
From the Charles Darwin Foundaiton (CDF) Research Station
CDF Restoration Group Coordinator, Dr. Mark Gardener, is featured in the March 18 edition of Science magazine, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The article by Gaia Vince entitled "Embracing Invasives," describes a recent paradigm shift in which conservationists are beginning to value and manage highly-disturbed ecosystems as biodiversity strongholds.
Although not all members of the conservation community are convinced by the new trajectory, the paradigm shift has been gaining traction worldwide over the last five years. Regarded as "novel" or "hybrid" ecosystems, that is systems that are mixtures of exotic and native species, Gardener has come to the conclusion that: "It's time to embrace the aliens," rather than continue to invest millions of dollars in schemes that for decades have proven largely incapable of removing introduced flora and fauna from protected areas in order to return them to a "pristine state."
With introduced species a fact of life in nearly every corner of the planet as a result of globalization, proponents of novel ecosystems are bringing science to bear on questions such as the role these systems may play in sustaining threatened biodiversity, particularly in areas where certain endemics may be brought back from the brink of extinction due to pollination or erosion control provided by the new taxa.
However, "Galapagos remains one of the most pristine ecosystems left on our planet," with some uninhabited islands in a near original state and entirely protected. These islands obviously will have different management objectives from the inhabited islands which have been highly modified, especially in the humid highlands. In these modified systems, Gardener seeks to find ways to optimize management such that biodiversity and ecosystem services are maximized and intervention is minimized. As he notes in the article, "with 30,000 people now living in the Galapagos, ecosystem planning must address human needs, such as providing timber...in addition to nurturing biodiversity."
A further challenge, says Gardener, is marrying biodiversity and human needs to meet future conditions such as climate change and continuing human development through food cultivation and recharging groundwater.
CNH Tours has known Mark Gardener since 1999, when he first set foot in the Galapagos islands. A dedicated scientist and good friend, we're very pleased to see his work so well highlighted in this prestigious scientific publication.