VII.13 Galapagos National Park (Ecuador)
The Committee took note of a report presented by IUCN on the site. This report outlined, while acknowledging efforts by the Ecuadorian authorities concerning legislation and cooperation with local authorities, the threats this site is currently facing. These are mainly:
(a) threats to the terrestrial biodiversity with the introduction of species of vertebrate animals endangering endemic flora and fauna, as well as the growing human population, which has severe impacts for example for solid waste disposal,
(b) threats to the marine biodiversity with illegal and increasing export fisheries (lobsters, sea cucumbers, sharks, tuna, etc.).
Action should be sought to solve the problems of immigration, of introduction of foreign species, to obtain more funding, to prepare a strong management strategy and its effective implementation for both the terrestrial and marine habitats as well as to control tourism.
The Representative of IUCN concluded that in light of the serious threat of species introduction and increasing population the Committee may wish to consider to place the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Delegate of Ecuador took the opportunity to explain the situation at the site and presented a letter to the Committee outlining the Ecuadorian position regarding the situation of the Galapagos.
(a) the inadequate legal and administrative structure, the population growth, the illegal fishing in the Marine Resources Reserve of the Galapagos, unbalanced tourist activities and the impact of foreign species introduced to the island;
(b) that Galapagos - according to scientists - continues to be an exceptional treasure of the world from which no species has been lost;
(c) that the global community make a precise and objective diagnostic of the situation in the light of available information;
(d) that numerous measures to safeguard the Galapagos have been taken, including constitutional reforms, management plans and international assistance projects by GEF, UNDP, USAID and others.
He concluded that the site should not be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Director of the Centre offered that assistance be given to the Galapagos National Park as one of the precious sites of worldwide significance, which deserves special attention. After considerable discussion on the issue of placing the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger by the Delegates of Germany, the united states, Canada, Niger, Cuba and Australia, the Chairperson requested that the Delegates of Australia and Ecuador work out a proposal to be presented to the Committee.
The Committee reviewed the text proposed jointly by the Delegates of Australia and Ecuador.
The Delegate of the United States recalled the Articles 77- 90 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention and underlined, while recognizing the sensitivities of this question, the Committee should consider the threats to the site. The Delegate of Germany supported this remark and suggested to create an ad hoc aid commission for the Galapagos as international assistance would be needed. The Delegate of Niger supported the suggestions made by the United States and Germany, and underlined that international help would be needed in this case. The Delegate of Japan proposed to review point 3 of the text concerning actors operating in the area.
The Delegate of Ecuador thanked the Delegate of Germany for his suggestion of an aid Committee, but however emphasized, that this would be an issue to be decided by his Government. Ecuador would be grateful for any help through official channels. He furthermore underlined that the proposed text was a consensus text and that it should be adopted.
The Chairperson, taking note of the concerns raised by Ecuador, asked the Committee to adopt the following text by vote. (14 Delegates voted for the text and there were 5 abstentions):
1. The Committee notes the five greatest problems threatening the conservation of the Galapagos Islands identified in the statement presented by the Delegate of Ecuador.
2. The Committee also notes the various legal and technical efforts made by the state Party to overcome these problems.
3. The Committee takes note of the state Party's opinion that some of the threats to the Galapagos have been caused by international factors, such as overfishing by foreign fleets for foreign markets, and seeks international cooperation in reducing these threats.
4. The Committee also agrees with the state Party that tourism to the site should focus on education, photography, observation and appreciation of heritage values.
5. The Committee recommends that the Director of the World Heritage Centre accepts the invitation from the state Party to visit the Galapagos Islands, with the Chairperson of the Committee and appropriate technical advisors, to discuss the pressures on and present condition of the World Heritage site and to identify steps to overcome the problems.
6. The Committee invites the state Party and the Director to report on the outcome of the visit for further consideration by the Bureau at its twentieth session, including the question of whether or not the property should, at that stage, be recommended for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger.