1.         Galápagos Islands (Ecuador) (N 1bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-1998)
Total amount approved: USD 517,850
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

June 1996: fact-finding mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: At its last session (Kyoto, 1998), the Committee commended the State Party for ensuring the passage of the «Special Law on the Galapagos» on 18 March 1998, by the Official Registry of Ecuador as Law No. 278, and decided not to include Galapagos in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Law provides for the extension of the outer boundary of the marine reserve from 24 to 64 km offshore and for the establishment of a significant 130,000 km2 Reserve for the conservation of marine biodiversity where only tourism and artisanal fisheries will be permitted. Furthermore, the Law addresses most of the key issues relating to conservation and sustainable development of Galapagos, including those five issues which had been described in the reports of the Bureau and Committee sessions in 1998.

New information: Recent information received by IUCN indicates that positive actions have been taken to enhance the integrity of this site. The general regulation to implement the Special Law for Galapagos has been approved. However, the various special regulations have yet to be developed and thus many sections of the law are yet to be enforced. The greatest concern is that there is still no regulation governing the application of the various provisions of the law dealing with the control of introduced species, environmental impact assessment, environmental auditing and other environmental protection tools. There are pressing needs for fisheries regulations, co-ordinated with the marine reserve management planning and for tourism regulations. In relation to tourism, a specific concern is that the combination of environmental and tourism regulations should tightly regulate the application of the fourth Transitory Disposition of the Special Law for Galapagos, which exempts Isabela Island and its residents from certain constraints on tourism expansion. This Special Law could, if misapplied, open-up loopholes for undesirable development with negative effects on Galapagos conservation.

In August 1998 a new Constitution came into force in Ecuador. This Constitution contains various national environmental provisions, which could potentially benefit the Galapagos. It also changed the judicial system by transferring to the local judiciary much of the power that allows authorities such as the Galapagos National Park to apply sanctions. With respect to the Galapagos, the new Constitution reaffirms the special status of the Archipelago.

Despite the delays in developing regulations, activities are moving rapidly towards the establishment of the quarantine inspection system for the Galapagos. Inspections should start in ports and airports, both on the mainland and in the islands, by mid-1999. The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) is helping to co-ordinate activities in the Islands, providing some technical assistance and running an intensive awareness programme. The USA's quarantine service (APHIS) and the Ecuadorian Institution are providing technical assistance. There are prospects for funding a large part of the quarantine inspection infrastructure, training and expert services through two projects of the Inter-American Development Bank

In relation to the eradication of alien species from the islands, the Ministry of Environment has prepared a request to the Global Environment Facility for funding to protect the terrestrial biodiversity of Galapagos. The project is in the preparatory stage and focuses on eradication of introduced mammalian species. It complements other parts of the conservation strategy for the Galapagos Islands which aim to control the spread of invasive species belonging to other animal and plant taxa. A proposal has been tabled by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, in co-operation with the CDRS, for funding under the Environment and Biodiversity Programme of the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP). The Project, entitled Control and Eradication of Invasive Species: A Necessary Condition for Conserving Endemic Biodiversity of the Galapagos World Heritage site, is estimated to cost US$ 3,999,850. Of this amount US$ 2,000,000 will be used to set up an Endowment Fund to provide long-term support for the control and eradication of invasive species in Galapagos. Several international partners, e.g. UNESCO-MAB, FAO Regional Office for Latin America, ICSU, and SCOPE (Scientific Committee for the Protection of the Environment) have endorsed the project and the Ecuadorian Government and IUCN have called for the favourable consideration of the project by UNFIP. The decision of the UNFIP for financing this project will be reported at the time of the Bureau session.

The Management Plan for the Marine Reserve was approved on 18 March 1999, despite complications caused by the lack of a General Regulation to the Special Law. The approval of the Management Plan should mark the end of commercial fishing in the Marine Reserve and the establishment of the Participatory Management Group for the Reserve. Essential for the implementation of the Management Plan is a clear definition of management zones, especially no-take zones. The details of artisanal fisheries regulations, including the definition of "artisanal" in the Galapagos context, are also to be decided through a technical exercise, which has been initiated with the co-operation of the National Fisheries Institute, but would benefit greatly from international technical expertise in fisheries. A third issue to be considered in implementing the management plan is the establishment of mechanisms to regulate total fishing capacity in the islands.

Despite all these positive developments, the decision to reopen the sea cucumber fisheries for two months (from 1 April to 31 May 1999) had raised serious concern among national and international conservation NGOs. The two fundamental concerns are the status of the resource itself and the capability to effectively manage fisheries activities. A report received from the Charles Darwin Foundation indicates that the reopening of sea cucumber fisheries, follows an assessment of the populations in the fishing zones. A joint monitoring and patrolling programme between GNPS, CDRS and the Ecuadorian Navy has been established using six patrol boats. Thanks to the support of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the marine patrol is supported by an aerial patrol. This patrolling system is proving to be an effective enforcement mechanism. The current situation relating to the number of boats and fishermen is still unclear and this is an issue of concern. Monitoring indicates that the level of the catches is extremely low in comparison with that of 1994 and that the divers are now harvesting sea cucumbers in deeper waters. Results to date indicate that this activity is unsustainable and could have additional impact on the overall marine life of the Reserve.

The Permanent Delegation of Ecuador to UNESCO, via its letter of 8 April provided a response on the question of sea cucumber fishing. It also transmitted, via another letter of 27 April 1999, a copy of the resolution of the Inter-institutional Authority for the Management of the Galapagos Marine Reserve and statements concerning the fisheries situation. Both documents have been forwarded to IUCN for review.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to compliment the State Party for its efforts to improve the conservation of the Galapagos Islands World Heritage site, particularly during difficult economic times. The Bureau may wish to recognise the support provided by USAID, Frankfurt Zoological Society, The Barbara Delano Foundation, WWF, and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation to strengthen management of this site. The Bureau may request the State Party to provide copies of the recently approved Management Plan for the Marine Reserve to the Centre and IUCN for review. The Bureau may request IUCN to determine whether the plan provides a satisfactory basis for the re-nomination of the marine reserve as an extension to the World Heritage site and submit its findings to its next session in November 1999. The Bureau may also invite the State Party to submit the first of its annual reports on the state of conservation of Galapagos to the twenty-third session of the Committee.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:

Twenty second session of the Committee – Chapter VII.23

Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV. 32

 

New information: Recent information received by the Centre and IUCN from the State Party (15 September 1999) reinforces the fact that positive actions have been taken to enhance the integrity of this site.  Following the approval of the Special Law for Galapagos in March 1999, the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador and the Permanent Commission for the Galapagos Islands have been preparing the general regulations by sectors (including: tourism, traditional fisheries, agriculture and environmental control).  This has been done using a participatory approach to gain the support and consent from local communities.  The document on the general regulations has been completed and submitted to the President of the Republic where it was recently discussed and approved.  It is expected to be in force in the near future.   Progress is reported on the application of migratory controls considered under the Special Law for Galapagos.  As a result, resident permits have been reduced from over 6,000 in 1992 to 300 in 1999.  In November 1998 a Census of Population for the Islands was taken and is providing valuable information on demographic, economic and management activities in the islands.  In relation to tourism development, there are increasing national and international pressures to increase the number of visitors to the islands.  However, application of the Special Law for Galapagos is helping to control these pressures.  There have been no further increases in relation to the capacity of hotels, tourist boats and other services.  The Ministry of Environment of Ecuador is implementing an Environmental Management Programme, guided by the International Development Bank (IDB), that is supporting infrastructure development for sanitation, water supply, water treatment and solid waste management in order to solve existing problems of pollution in the islands.  The re-opening of the sea cucumber fisheries from April to July 1999 was carefully monitored by the personnel of the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation.  The two fundamental concerns are the status of the resource itself and the capability to effectively manage fisheries activities.  A joint monitoring and patrolling programme funded by the Frankfurt Zoological Society was implemented using six patrol boats and aerial techniques.  Monitoring indicated that the level of catches was extremely low in comparison with figures from 1994, thus suggesting that this activity is unsustainable and represents a threat to the marine ecosystem of the islands.

At its twenty-third session, the Bureau complimented the State Party for its efforts to improve the conservation of the Galapagos Islands World Heritage site, particularly during difficult economic times.  IUCN notes the support from various donors and specifically the confirmed approval of US$3,999,850 for the UNESCO Project on the Control and Eradication of Invasive Species.  It aims to ensure that the Galapagos retains their unique biodiversity for the benefit of future generations.  Its objectives include testing of the application of state-of-the-art scientific principles and techniques, as well as of participatory approaches in the development of a quarantine regime, capacity and other essential infrastructure for the control of the introduction and spread of invasive species in the Galapagos.

IUCN welcomes the report from the State Party on the state of conservation of the Galapagos Islands and fully acknowledges positive steps taken by the State Party to conserve this site. A copy of the “Plan de Manejo de conservacion y uso sustentable para la reserva marina de Galapagos” has been sent to IUCN for evaluation.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 23 BUR IV.B.32

At its last session, the Committee commended the State Party for ensuring the passage of the «Special Law on the Galapagos» on 18 March 1998, by the Official Registry of Ecuador as Law No. 278, and decided not to include Galapagos in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Law provides for the extension of the outer boundary of the marine reserve from 24 to 64 km offshore and for the establishment of a significant 130,000 km2 Reserve for the conservation of marine biodiversity where only tourism and artisanal fisheries will be permitted. Furthermore, the Law addresses most of the key issues relating to conservation and sustainable development of Galapagos, including those five issues which had been described in the reports of the Bureau and Committee sessions in 1998.

Information received by IUCN indicated that positive actions have been taken to enhance the integrity of this site. The general regulation to implement the Special Law for Galapagos has been approved. However, the various special regulations have yet to be developed and thus many sections of the law are yet to be enforced. The greatest concern is that there is still no regulation governing the application of the various provisions of the law dealing with the control of introduced species, environmental impact assessment, environmental auditing and other environmental protection tools. There are pressing needs for fisheries regulations, co-ordinated with the marine reserve management planning and for tourism regulations. In relation to tourism, a specific concern is that the combination of environmental and tourism regulations should tightly regulate the application of the fourth Transitory Disposition of the Special Law for Galapagos, which exempts Isabela Island and its residents from certain constraints on tourism expansion. This Special Law could, if misapplied, open-up loopholes for undesirable development with negative effects on Galapagos conservation.  In August 1998 a new Constitution came into force in Ecuador. With respect to the Galapagos, the new Constitution reaffirms the special status of the Archipelago.

Despite the delays in developing regulations, activities are moving rapidly towards the establishment of the quarantine inspection system for the Galapagos. Inspections should start in ports and airports, both on the mainland and in the islands, by mid-1999. The Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) is helping to co-ordinate activities in the Islands, providing some technical assistance and running an intensive awareness programme. There are prospects for funding a large part of the quarantine inspection infrastructure, training and expert services through two projects of the Inter-American Development Bank.

The Bureau noted that, in relation to the eradication of alien species from the Islands, the Ministry of Environment has prepared a request to the Global Environment Facility for funding to protect the terrestrial biodiversity of Galapagos. It complements other parts of the conservation strategy for the Galapagos Islands that aim to control the spread of invasive species belonging to other animal and plant taxa.  A proposal by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, in co-operation with the CDRS, for funding from the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) and the UN Foundation (UNF) has been approved for an amount of US$ 3,999,850. The project is entitled Control and Eradication of Invasive Species: A Necessary Condition for Conserving Endemic Biodiversity of the Galapagos World Heritage site. Of the amount approved, US$ 2,000,000 will be used to set up an Endowment Fund to provide long-term support for the control and eradication of invasive species in Galapagos Islands.

The Management Plan for the Marine Reserve was approved on 18 March 1999, despite complications caused by the lack of a General Regulation to the Special Law. The approval of the Management Plan should mark the end of commercial fishing in the Marine Reserve and the establishment of the Participatory Management Group for the Reserve. Essential for the implementation of the Management Plan is a clear definition of management zones, especially no-take zones. The details of artisanal fisheries regulations, including the definition of "artisanal" in the Galapagos context, are also to be decided through a technical exercise, which has been initiated with the co-operation of the National Fisheries Institute, but would benefit greatly from international technical expertise in fisheries. A third issue to be considered in implementing the management plan is the establishment of mechanisms to regulate total fishing capacity in the Islands.

Despite all these positive developments, the decision to reopen the sea cucumber fisheries for two months raised serious concern among national and international conservation NGOs. The two fundamental concerns are the status of the resource itself and the capability to effectively manage fisheries activities. A report received from the Charles Darwin Foundation indicates that the reopening of sea cucumber fisheries, follows an assessment of the populations in the fishing zones. A joint monitoring and patrolling programme between GNPS, CDRS and the Ecuadorian Navy has been established using six patrol boats. Thanks to the support of the Frankfurt Zoological Society, the marine patrol is supported by an aerial patrol. This patrolling system is proving to be an effective enforcement mechanism. The current situation relating to the number of boats and fishermen is still unclear and this is an issue of concern. Monitoring indicates that the level of the catches is extremely low in comparison with that of 1994 and that the divers are now harvesting sea cucumbers in deeper waters. Results to date indicate that this activity is unsustainable and could have additional impact on the overall marine life of the Reserve.

IUCN noted the importance of quickly developing special regulations to enable sections of the special law to be applied (particularly related to fisheries and tourism). IUCN raised concerns about the re-opening of the sea-cucumber fisheries in relation to the impact on the resource, and the capability to effectively manage fishery activities. IUCN looks forward to reviewing the recently approved Management Plan for the Marine Reserve to examine it in relation to the possible re-nomination of the Marine Reserve as an extension to the World Heritage site. IUCN underlined the progress made and that the Galapagos Islands provide a model for other countries with regard to the management of World Heritage sites.

The Observer of Ecuador expressed his appreciation to all donors assisting in the protection of the site and stated that his Government carried out all the requests made by the Committee. He hoped that all difficulties in the implementation of the law and the re-nomination of the Marine Reserve could be overcome.

The Bureau complimented the State Party for its efforts to improve the conservation of the Galapagos Islands World Heritage site, particularly during difficult economic times. The Bureau recognised the support provided by USAID, Frankfurt Zoological Society, The Barbara Delano Foundation, WWF, and The David and Lucille Packard Foundation to strengthen management of this site, as well as UNF/UNFIP for the approval of the project on control and eradication of invasive species. The Bureau requested the State Party to provide copies of the recently approved Management Plan for the Marine Reserve to the Centre and IUCN for review. The Bureau also requested IUCN to determine whether the plan provides a satisfactory basis for the re-nomination of the marine reserve as an extension to the World Heritage site and submit its findings to its next session in November 1999. The Bureau invited the State Party to submit the first of its annual reports on the state of conservation of Galapagos to the twenty-third session of the Committee.

Decision Adopted: 23 COM X.B.28

X.28 The Committee noted the decisions of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau as reflected in the Report of the Bureau session (Working Document WHC-99/CONF.209/6) included as Annex VIII to this report. Additional observations made during the Committee session are reflected below.

Shark Bay, Western Australia (Australia)

Wet Tropics of Queensland (Australia)

Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia)

The Delegate of Australia thanked IUCN for the consultative process started, which could be a model for other State Parties. He also informed the Committee that the area of marine protection around Macquerie Island had been extended and now comprises 16 million ha, the world's largest highly protected marine zone.

Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)

Dja Faunal Reserve (Cameroon)

Los Katios National Park (Colombia)

The Delegate of Colombia informed the Committee that a visit by a delegation from the Ministry for Environment to Los Katios was recently carried out. The visit included areas that were previously not accessible. He emphasized that the proposal to grant collective land ownership over 100,000ha would be outside the Park in the buffer zone. He commented that his Government would be pleased to receive the visit of the monitoring mission to this site in 2000. The Colombian authorities have enhanced transboundary co-operation with Darien National Park (Panama) and strengthened the protected area system.

Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Dominica)

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

The Observer of the United States underlined his Government's role in safeguarding Galapagos Islands and congratulated the Government of Ecuador on progress made. He noted the landmark decision of the Galapagos Law and questioned whether it had been implemented, in particular concerning the forty-mile zone. The Secretariat informed the Committee that some threats related to illegal fishing have been reported. IUCN noted the implementation of this pioneering legislation is vital and specific regulations need to be developed and implemented as soon as possible. The Delegate of Ecuador provided information from the Ministry of Environment noting progress concerning control of introduced species and general improvements in relation to biodiversity conservation at the site. Concerning the control of the 40-mile zone, she stated that the law has not yet been implemented, but that the basis for the conservation and environmental control is there. She thanked the Committee for all its efforts to safeguard the Galapagos.

Kaziranga National Park (India)

Komodo National Park (Indonesia)

Mount Kenya National Park (Kenya)

Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal)

The Observer of Nepal expressed his gratitude for the international support for the important project on tourism carried out at Sagarmatha National Park. The Observer of the United Kingdom noted that it is a ground-breaking project.

Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand (New Zealand)

Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman)

The Delegate of Thailand noted the raised serious concerns raised by the Bureau regarding the management of this site, given the decline in numbers of the Arabian Oryx and the fact that the boundary marking and management planning is long overdue for completion. He recalled that the Committee inscribed the site without legislation and management plan in December 1994. He highlighted the Operational Guidelines in relation to the deletion of properties. The Delegate of Benin noted that rigour was not always applied in the past years and that a number of sites would not have been accepted if they were presented today. Concerning the question of deletion, a site would be put first on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Delegate of Thailand made it clear that he had not proposed the deletion of the site from the World Heritage List and that he was totally aware of the modalities in that respect. The Observer of the United Kingdom noted that similar problems concerned a number of sites and that these issues would certainly be dealt with by the periodic reporting process. IUCN pointed out that it had consistently raised concerns about this site. IUCN noted that legislation does not have effect if there is not sufficient resources for its implementation. The Chairperson reminded the Committee members about the rarity of Arab natural sites on the List. In concluding, the Chairperson thanked the Committee for the debate and noted that awareness needs to be raised in countries about the World Heritage Convention, its obligations and World Heritage values to be preserved for future generations, in particular among decision-makers. He thanked the Delegate of Thailand for his statement and encouraged the Committee to further reflect on how to enhance the protection of World Heritage sites.

Huascaran National Park (Peru)

Lake Baikal (Russian Federation)

The Observer of Russia requested that the information provided during the adoption of the report of the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau on this site be included in the Bureau report.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest (Uganda)

Gough Island (United Kingdom)

Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)

Canaima National Park (Venezuela)

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)

Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe)