Home to more than 20 per cent of the planet's entire biodiversity, islands are our key to survival and yet they continue to be exploited and degraded. Island Conservation, a global non-profit organisation, is working to change this reality.
This article has been sponsored by Lenovo
There are more than 100,000 islands on Earth, all of which are responsible and indispensable for our survival. Home to the greatest reserve of biodiversity, islands house almost 20 per cent of the planet’s entire biodiversity.
Cradling a unique evolutionary history, islands are truly invaluable treasures. Depending on their size, shape and degree of isolation, these islands hold within themselves ecologically unique species of plants and animals. Most of these species are endemic to their islands, which means one cannot find the same species anywhere else in the world.
However, this also makes them extremely vulnerable. Today, islands have the highest proportion of recorded extinction, almost 80 per cent of the total. And this is because, over the past century islands have been subjected to over-exploitation of natural resources, pollution, climate change, habitat change and invasion of foreign species. The impact of this is not only felt in the degradation of biodiversity but also by the loss of livelihood and struggles endured by the local island communities. One of the most vulnerable populations in the world, small island developing states (SIDS), solely depend on the island ecosystems for their survival.
It is sustainable practices that encourage conservation of the islands’ unique ecosystem that can truly ensure their well being– a principle that NGO Island Conservation has been following since 1997 while having restored a total of 65 islands worldwide.
One of its recent conservation efforts has been deployed at a remote island called Robinson Crusoe. Located almost 700 km off the coast of Chile, Robinson Crusoe is the largest island among the Juan Fernandez Islands- a small archipelago in Chile. And just like other islands, it has been globally recognised for housing a large variety of unique plant and animal species, many of which are endangered.
Here too, the invasion of alien species and climate change, among other adversities, has threatened the population of rock lobsters, a species that is also responsible for sustaining the local island community. The rising population of foreign species like goats, feral cats, rodents, coatimundi and rabbits has led to the decline of soil and forest, causing the endemic species to struggle for survival.
Understanding the gravity of the situation, Island Conservation, a global not-for-profit conservation organisation that has dedicated itself to the protection and restoration of island ecosystems, has been working at Robinson Crusoe for the last decade, to enable a sustainable transformation. Removal of invasive vertebrates to save endangered plants and animals, to the preservation of both the indigenous communities and endangered species like fur seals, the Pink-footed Shearwater, Juan Fernández Firecrown and Masafuera Rayadito.
Island Conservation guides the volunteers, land managers and local communities to take ownership of the conservation activities, as it has done in collaboration with Lenovo for the Work for Humankind project at Robinson Crusoe. A community-led project, they have invited volunteers from all across the world to work remotely from the island with the help of Lenovo’s smart technology and posts that contribute to its restoration and conservation. The NGO’s larger vision is to enable ecotourism at Robinson Crusoe island and secure a sustainable future with the help of technology. And Lenovo is helping them make this a reality.
Under this project, a group of volunteers are selected to work remotely from the island for a month, while volunteering for 20 hours a week to conduct all the conservation work with members of the local community.
Talking about the collaboration’s potential impact, David Will, Head of Innovation at Island Conservation said, “The innovation will enable us to develop much-needed connectivity solutions which will accelerate our ability to implement proven conservation actions. This will preserve the island’s rich habitats and endangered species that thrive on this beautiful island. It will improve our ability to work with island communities in the region for years to come while preventing the extinction of globally threatened species.” Additionally, Lenovo’s smart technology will also help Island Conservation to efficiently process and analyse data about the endangered and invasive species, making the entire process more effective.
With these tools and the aid from Work for Humankind volunteers, Island Conservation is set to provide the island community with invaluable knowledge that can help them sustain and prosper independently.
Covered image: Island Conservation