Our Commitment to the Environment
Living and working here, our team is acutely aware of their individual and collective responsibilities as custodians of one of the last remaining natural island eco-systems in the world. Every day we strive to operate in a more sustainable way to bring you the maximum in comfort, with the least impact to our environment. We try to use natural resources as much as possible by using food which grows naturally on the estate including grapefruit, lemons, limes and avocados. We have our own kitchen garden full of organic fresh vegetables and herbs which are seeded in the nursery until they are ready to be planted in the garden including cauliflower, cabbage, aubergine, onion, cucumber, celery, carrot, broccoli, spinach, tomato, chive, cilantro, basil and chilli. Growing our own produce reduces the amount of carbon emissions that would be generated by delivery trucks and boats carrying imported goods. We encourage you to visit the kitchen garden and you are welcome to choose your own vegetables to accompany your meal. And if you fancy pottering in the garden, do let us know – there is always plenty to do and room for expansion!
Although the Islands are surrounded by water, fresh water is scarce and there is no piped-water supply to the highlands. To reduce our reliance on desalinated water generated by diesel fuel, we have our own rainwater reservoir with filters and storage which greatly reduces our reliance on deliveries of fresh water by road.
We are constantly looking for other ways we can minimise the impact on our environment. Other initiatives include recycling all waste and using biodegradable products. One of our most popular programs is the reforestation project or “Plant-a-Tree program” here on the estate which is one of the few places where the rare Miconia plant thrives. Guests are invited to clear a small patch of ground, prepare the soil and plant a young tree of an endemic species on the Royal Palm Estate. In return we will make a plaque with your choice of wording which you can locate by your tree.
Social responsibility is not just about the land and environment; supporting the local community is a powerful way of ensuring the future protection of the Galapagos. As these islands move toward a sustainable society, Royal Palm has invested in improving a local school in the nearby small rural town of Santa Rosa; has supported the development of a gastronomy elective at the main high school, held fundraising events for local projects and encouraged arts and culture through our Artist-in-Residence project. We are very aware of the responsibility we have to contribute to keeping this pristine paradise safe and to help build a sustainable future with the people who call these Islands “home.”
The Royal Palm is proud to be working in partnership with the Galapagos Conservancy. We donate a percentage of profits on rooms sold to support the Galapagos Conservancy’s broader conservation programs and we encourage you to also support them in preserving these remarkable islands. We share the philosophy that long-term protection of Galapagos requires an economic system that is compatible with protecting the unique wildlife, marine life, bird life and landscapes. By introducing an educational system that prepares the local community to be stewards of their surroundings, we hope to create a strong civil society dedicated to and engaged in Galapagos conservation.
Save the Miconia
MICONIA is an endemic shrub found only in the highlands Santa Cruz and San Cristobal islands in the Galapagos archipelago which is their only natural habitat. Its full scientific name is Miconia Robinsoniana and it grows to heights of 3-4 meters at altitudes of between 500 - 700 meters above sea level. Through-out the year, Miconias oscillate between a green color in the hotter months and they turn slightly reddish in the humid and rainy seasons.
Miconias are from the Asteraceae family and their local name is “Cacaotillo” due to the resemblance of its leaves with Cocoa husks! The leaves have red stalks and a distinctive parallel venation. The flower heads are composed of small purple petals on long white stalks. The fruit that grows on top of these flowers is shiny, purple colored and sweet “Miconia Berries”. There are 7 micro-climates on Santa Cruz and the Miconia Zone gets its name from the dense, mostly treeless heath of Miconia Robinsoniana shrubs, benefiting from high levels of rainfall. The Miconia Forests are the preferred nesting habitat for the Galapagos Crake (1.) - another highly endangered species. Other birds that live in these forests are Short-Eared Owls, Yellow Crowned Warblers (2.), Galapagos Fly Catchers(3.), and various Darwin Finches.
Since 2007, The Royal Palm Hotel has pioneered a reforestation program for this specie, which today can be found in our gardens, on the verges by the main roads and along our nature trails which meander deep into the heart of the Miconia Highland Forests on our Estate. The Miconia is endangered and is considered by scientists to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Now you can play a part in the future of this unique eco-system by planting your very own tree! You will have the chance to meet one of our Galapagos National Park team experts who will explain how your contribution will help the future of the Santa Cruz Highlands. It takes less than 30 minutes and they will help you to plant your Miconia Robinsoniana! The cost of the activity is $30 per person and this money goes towards getting rid of invasive and introduced species from the areas for reforestation. It also pays for the compost and fertilizer needed to prepare the ground for planting. Each year, The Galapagos National Park cultivates 2,000 Miconia plants from seedlings in their greenhouses which are our future forests!
In 2016, we have experienced the worst drought conditions for decades; this threatens the Miconia’s existence even more, because they perish without sufficient rainfall and water. So this year, more than ever before, we are asking for your participation and help.
None of this is possible without your help and support, so thank you!