Leonardo DiCaprio has momentarily stepped away from the studio cameras being manned by Martin Scorsese to pledge US$43 million (AU$55.5 million) towards the restoration of the Galapagos Islands, which has recently come under threat due to both climate change and human intervention (one in the same things, really).
Lending his 68 million strong Instagram + Twitter followership to environmental organisation Re:wild for the announcement – of which Hollywood actor himself established alongside a group of renowned conservation scientists earlier this year – the Galapagos National Park Directorate, Island Conservation, and local communities have also signed on for the coming undertaking.
The US$43 endowment will fund projects across the entire Galapagos Islands as well as all of Latin America’s Pacific archipelagos; such as captive breeding programs to bring the Pink Iguana, the Floreana Giant Tortoise, and the Floreana Mockingbird back from the brink of extinction. Not-so-fun fact: there are just 200 Pink Iguanas left in the wild “living in the shadow of an active volcano.” In total, Floreana Island is currently home to 54 threatened species.
“When I travelled to the Galápagos Islands, I met with Paula Castaño and other environmental heroes in Ecuador working day in and day out to save one of the most irreplaceable places on the planet,” says DiCaprio.
“Around the world, the wild is declining. We have degraded three-quarters of the wild places and pushed more than one million species to the brink of extinction. More than half of Earth’s remaining wild areas could disappear in the next few decades if we don’t decisively act.”
The environmental heroes that the planet needs are already here. Now we all must rise to the challenge and join them.”
“Time is running out for so many species, especially on islands where their small populations are vulnerable and threatened,” says Castaño.
“We need catalytic investments like the one announced today to replicate our successes in the Galápagos and elsewhere.”
“Up to 97% of the land area of the Galápagos Islands comes under national park status. We are not trying to remove humans from the picture. We are trying to all work together to re-wild these ecosystems, and support the community as well. They want to be able to continue to thrive together with nature.”
“These kinds of partnerships that leverage technical, social and financial innovations, are exactly what we need around the world to restore the health of our planet,” says Marcelo Mata Guerrero, Ecuador’s Minister of Environment & Water.
“With Ecuador, as one of the 17 most biodiverse countries on the planet, we have an opportunity here to demonstrate what a truly effective model looks like for the protection and restoration of our shared wildlife and wild lands – the immune system of our planet, protecting all life on Earth, including people, from the effects of climate change and emerging disease.”
Prior to his announcement regarding the Galapagos Islands, Leonardo DiCaprio has long been an active environmentalist. Having notably addressed the United Nations about climate change back in 2014 and redirecting the spotlight to a number of worthy related causes throughout his career, according to The Guardian, he’s raised well over $100 million in grants to date.