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Mexico

Guadalupe Island

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Conservation benefit: Construction of fences to keep goats out of fragile plant communities

Date Approved: 12.2000

Guadalupe Island is a remote island 150 miles off the Pacific coast of Baja California. The island has an exceptional concentration of endemic species, including 34 endemic plants. This 160-square-kilometer island, one of Mexico’s largest and most biologically important, is a Special Biosphere Reserve. It is, however, a classic “paper park,” with little actual management or protection.

Goats, which were introduced to the island 150 years ago, have devastated Guadalupe’s plant species. After a century and a half of grazing, there have been five global extinctions and 15 local extinctions of plant species on Guadalupe. If the goats keep grazing freely, it will cause more degradation of the island, and more plant species will disappear.

Seacology has provided funding to the Island Conservation & Ecology Group to build fences around ten of the most sensitive areas of the island, to keep goats out. While demarcating the protected areas, local farmers and biologists identified two endemic plant species thought to be extinct.

Project Updates

January 1970

In 2004, the Mexican governmental research agency Instituto Nacional de Ecología, conservation group Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas, and other organizations led an effort to remove goats from Guadalupe Island and restore the severely damaged ecosystem. Eradication of the goats was completed in 2006, and the island is now recovering. Biologists who studied the area reported in 2009 that the risk of extinction of the endemic Guadalupe cypress tree has been reduced considerably and that the evidence suggests “a promising future” for the species.

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