Friday, March 2, 2012

The CO2 Sequestration Garden

With its crystal blue waters and exotic species, the Galápagos Islands are a unique destination to visit for any travel enthusiast. Yet, because of an increase in tourism over the past thirty years, noticeable long-term impacts on the fauna and flora have taken place, as well as a vast amount of harmful carbon dioxide gas released into the atmosphere with the travel to and from the mainland. Although tourism brings economic benefits to the island and serves as a driver for sustainable development, the inclusion of environmental return is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the Galápagos' ecosystems. 

Playa Mann, a popular beach for tourists on San Cristóbal.

Carbon sequestration can be understood as the process of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by plants, trees, and crops through photosynthesis, which is then stored as carbon in tree trunks, branches, and the soil. Research has shown that sequestration activities offer cost-effective emission reduction opportunities, as well as generating environmental co-benefits. Hacienda Tranquila has already begun giving back to the island by planting 750 Manzanillo and Matazarno trees that capture a large amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 250 of these are Manzanillo, which capture 750 kilograms per year, and 500 are Matazarno, which capture 148 kilograms per year. All of these combined, we make a significant impact on the sequestration of carbon by capturing 191 tons from the atmosphere per year.

One of the Manzanillo trees we have planted at the Hacienda

To further address the issue of tourism and its effect on San Cristóbal, our staff and volunteers are helping to develop the largest carbon sequestration garden in the Galápagos Islands. The garden itself will feature both Manzanillo and Matazarno trees, both of which are endemic species to the island. Our garden will be placed within a 15,000 square meter area on the Hacienda's grounds. 

A wide view of the area where we plan to develop the garden.

We began this project in March of 2011, and have cleared close to 10,000 square meters in the area so far. After we successfully clear all of the invasive species, we will increase the number of endemic species by planting 7,000 Manzanillo and Matazarno trees to create the garden. We believe the garden itself will serve as an example for all who visit the island on how communities can positively impact the environment. Our goal is to work on the garden over the next three years, reaching completion in 2015.

Matazarno trees ready for planting on the Hancienda.

Volunteers are hard at work helping us to clear the area we have set aside for the garden. We'll be keeping all of our supports updated on this project, so check back for updates in the future!

Hacienda Tranquila

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