The Nature Conservancy is pleased to announce the appointment of Eamon O’Byrne as California Islands Program Director. O’Byrne has extensive management and leadership experience and a background in developing successful partnerships with diverse stakeholders, including the National Park Service. As director, he will lead efforts to protect and restore the rare and unique ecosystems of the California Islands and to increase their resilience in the face of climate change.
Ensuring the survival of the irreplaceable plant and animal species of the California Islands amidst a changing climate will require new strategies, approaches and partnerships. Under O’Byrne’s direction, the Conservancy will continue to engage in the strong partnerships that have fueled the groundbreaking restoration of these islands to date while creating new alliances to tackle emerging threats and capitalize on new opportunities. These teams of scientists and conservation practitioners will work to restore populations of native animal, plant and insect species; pioneer techniques for invasive species removal; and collaborate on scientific research to explore the effects of climate change on island ecosystems.
The Nature Conservancy owns and manages 76 percent of Santa Cruz Island, the largest and most biodiverse of the California Islands, and with the help of its partners protects more than a thousand plant and animal species, including 12 found nowhere else on Earth.
“Santa Cruz Island has been the centerpiece of The Nature Conservancy’s efforts in this area for more than 30 years. Through our innovative work with partners, the island has emerged from near ecological disaster to become a model for conservation success,” said Alfredo Gonzalez, south coast and deserts regional director for The Nature Conservancy in California. “We’re thrilled to have Eamon serve as the California Islands director and bring his unique skill set to both further the achievements made thus far and capitalize on the lessons that can be transferred to other islands.”
O’Byrne has been associate director of operations for The Nature Conservancy’s California chapter for the past four years. Prior to that, he served as executive director of the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, where he spearheaded several complicated and successful national historic landmark preservation projects. He also served as education director with the association and developed several programs that served thousands of students annually.
O’Byrne is a graduate of the National University of Ireland and holds a U.S. Merchant Marine deck officer’s license. His extensive knowledge of marine operations will be invaluable to the California Islands program. He will be based in Ventura and starts his new role on Monday, August 12.
The Nature Conservancy is the most effective and influential conservation organization protecting lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than one million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide.
Since 1978, The Nature Conservancy has achieved extraordinary restoration success on Santa Cruz Island by removing all feral sheep and pigs, vaccinating island scrub-jays against West Nile Virus and bringing the native Santa Cruz Island fox back from the brink of extinction.
At 96 square miles, Santa Cruz Island is the largest and most biodiverse of the California Islands. Often referred to as the “Galapagos of North America,” the California Islands are home to plants and animals, including the island fox and island scrub-jay, found nowhere else on Earth.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.