Native vegetation in many parts of the Galapagos Islands has been largely destroyed by introduced animals such goats and donkeys and invasive plants like wild blackberry and quinine. As a result, large swaths of once healthy ecosystems have either been turned into desert or have become overgrown with foreign and destructive vegetation. In many areas, it’s difficult to reestablish native plants once they’re gone because of scarce rainfall and extreme climactic conditions.

The Charles Darwin Foundation, in conjunction with the Galapagos National Park and other international partners, has launched an incredibly ambitious and innovative project called Galapagos Verde 2050 to reverse this seemingly hopeless situation and restore degraded ecosystems in some of the most difficult and demanding locations in the islands.

The project utilizes Groasis Technology, a groundbreaking method for optimizing the use of water to propagate and cultivate plants. The Groasis Waterboxx is a plastic contraption that is filled with water and placed around newly planted vegetation. It gradually — sometimes for as long as eight months– irrigates the plant through a wick at the bottom of the box, eliminating the need for conventional irrigation systems and reducing water consumption by up to 90% compared to traditional drip irrigation. The box is removed once the plant is established.

groasis waterboxx galapagos islands

The Groasis Waterboxx is being used to propagate native plants in some of the most ecologically damaged areas in the Galapagos.

Currently, the new technology is being used to restore vegetation around the Black Gravel Mine on the island of Floreana. Over the last 20 years, excavation of stone from the mine for construction has devastated the once abundant native plant populations in the area. Since August, Galapagos Verde 2050 team members have planted 146 endemic and native plants using and early results show that the plants are surviving the extreme conditions and growing well.

black gravel mine galapagos verde 2050

Black Gravel Mine on the island of Floreana is being revegetated as part of the Galapagos Verde 2050 project.

The project will eventually be implemented on all four inhabited islands as well as Española, Santiago, South Plaza and Baltra to restore native vegetation. It will also be used to increase local agricultural production, which will reduce the islands’ dependence on freight transportation from the mainland, which in turn will reduce the risk that new invasive species will arrive in the Galapagos in the future.

Groasis technology was invented by a Pieter Hoff, a Dutch scientist,  and has been successfully used in over 28 countries around the world.  Check out the video below to learn more about Galapagos Verde: 2050: