The remote Juan Fernández archipelago is home to an amazing number of species that live nowhere else. There are 137 unique plant species and three unique animal species, as well as four subspecies. The archipelago sits in the Pacific, about 400 miles west of mainland Chile. Alejandro Selkirk Island is the largest of the group, at 5,000 hectares (19 square miles), and has the most endemic species. Its human residents make a living primarily from fishing and ecotourism.
Most of the archipelago is part of Juan Fernández National Park, and it was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1977. In 2009, the IUCN named the park as one of the 12 most threatened national parks on the planet. Invasive plants pose a huge threat to its biodiversity.
The Juan Fernández Islands Conservancy Program will clear invasive plants from at least 12.4 acres (five hectares) of Alejandro Selkirk Island, working with community members, volunteers, and the National Parks Administration. It will also undertake a 10-year environmental education program, encouraging residents, students, and tourists to actively participate in island conservation.
To support these efforts, Seacology is funding construction of an environmental education center on Robinson Crusoe island. The building will also house the volunteer groups that come each year to help remove invasive species.