History and Achievements

50 Years of Science infographic-DU.jpg

With the help of the IUCN, UNESCO, and a team of worldwide conservationists, the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (CDF) was founded under Belgian Law in 1959. For nearly 60 years, CDF has provided unique scientific solutions to protect the Galapagos  Islands. Our work continues to make the biggest impacts at local, national and international levels.

Victor Van Stralen Inaguration.jpg1959: Inauguration of the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands

57 years of CDF impacts:

Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands created and Galapagos National Park (GNP) established.

Charles Darwin Research Station established in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos.

Internationally-recognized herbarium established, containing the largest Galapagos plant collection in the world.

Giant Tortoise repatriation program established; world-class program continues today.

The first educational program for conservation is initiated on the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) began operating.

Together with the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD), CDF discovered the last known surviving Pinta Island giant tortoise, Lonesome George.

CDF scholarship training program founded for Ecuadorian students. Alumni have gone on to very successful careers working on Galapagos conservation projects. The program continues to be a success today.

Land iguana breeding and repatriation program initiated.

The Galapagos Islands are established as a Natural Heritage Site for Humanity by UNESCO.

The Galapagos National Park is considered a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Daisy tree Scalesia atractyloides, thought to be extinct, rediscovered on Santiago island.

CDF and the GNPD launch Project Isabela to restore Santiago, Pinta, & northern Isabela Islands.

Rediscovery of Floreana flax Linum cratericola, previously thought to be extinct.

Special Law for Galapagos creates the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR); contributions from CDF are crucial in ensuring that Galapagos’ needs for sustainable local development and environmental education are met under this new law.

CDF and the Galapagos Conservation Fund (Lindblad Expeditions) launch the Local Conservation Action Fund (LCAF), with the objective of providing seed funding for 95 community conservation programs and sustainable businesses. Partnership continues with Lindblad and National Geographic today.

CDF establishes Environmental Education Centers on Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabela, providing learning resources for all ages.

Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation awarded to CDF by UNESCO.

Terrestrial Invertebrates Database and Collections established.

Galapagos Inspection and Quarantine Program initiated to prevent introduced species from reaching the islands, after major contribution from CDF.

World Heritage Site extended to include the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR).

J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize awarded to CDF in recognition of its contributions to conservation.

IUCN adds the entire endemic flora of Galapagos to the Red List of Endangered and Threatened Species and creates a Galapagos Plant Specialist Group.

Oil tanker Jessica spills and CDF responds quickly with staff assistance and ecosystem monitoring.

CDF researchers and GNPD staff deliberately release the Australian lady bug to control the cottony cushion scale invasive insect.

Society for Conservation Biology Award for Distinguished Achievement awarded to CDF for distinguished service in the field of conservation biology.

CDF receives the Cosmos International award from Japan.

Baseline Study of the Marine Reserve published.

Baseline Study of Plant Research published.

Government of Ecuador enacts the Law for Total Control of Introduced Species in Galapagos.

BBVA Foundation Prize awarded to CDF in Spain.

Commander of the National Order of Honorato Vásquez bestowed on CDF by the Government of Ecuador.

Punto Azul Award from the Colegio Nacional de Galápagos is given to CDF.

CDF, GNPD, and the local government of Galapagos start bi-annual publication of Galapagos Report to provide updated information for decision making (ongoing).

The Galapagos Marine Reserve is recognized as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area by the International Maritime Organization.

CDF releases “Galapagos at Risk” report, effectively analyzing damaging socio-economic trends in the archipelago.

Galapagos declared “at risk” by President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, emphasizing its conservation as a critical priority for the country.

Galapagos Islands added to the list of World Heritage Sites in danger.

CDF celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding, alongside the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth.

International science symposium in Galapagos on CDF’s 50th Anniversary, leading to publish of the reference book The Role of Science for Conservation (2013).

Datazone launched on CDF website to allow direct access to collections, library catalog, and other information.

Effort to eradicate Philornis downsi spear-headed by CDF scientist following successful international workshop.

Research concludes that the first Biological Control Program in Galapagos is a success (the control of the cottony cushion scale invasive insect).

In partnership with CDF, Google and the GNPD, Galapagos 360 launched on Google Maps. The Galapagos Islands are virtually mapped for the first time paving the way to a new era for research and the management and protection of the Islands. 

CDF science team revising nests for the invasive fly, Philornis Downsi CDF science team revising nests for the invasive fly, Philornis Downsi


2014 in numbers 1 707.jpg

The Mangrove Finch is classified as Critically Endangered on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, since there are only 60 to 80 birds left in the world.

Mangrove Finches | First glimpse of chicks