Decision : 29 COM 8B.9
Nominations of Natural Properties to the World Heritage List (Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-05/29.COM/8B, WHC-05/29.COM/8B.Add 2 and WHC-05/29.COM/INF.8B.2,

2. Inscribes the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Mexico) on the World Heritage List on the basis of natural criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv):

Criterion (ii): The property ranks higher than other marine and insular World Heritage properties as it represents a unique example in which, in a very short distance, there are simultaneously "bridge islands" (populated by land in ocean level decline during glaciations) and oceanic islands (populated by sea and air). Moreover, almost all major oceanographic processes occurring in the planet's oceans are present in the property, giving it extraordinary importance for the study of marine and coastal processes. These processes are indeed supporting the high marine productivity and biodiversity richness that characterize the Gulf of California.

Criterion (iii): The serial property is of striking natural beauty and provides a dramatic setting due to the rugged forms of the islands, with high cliffs and sandy beaches contrasting with the brilliant reflection from the desert and the surrounding turquoise waters. The diversity of forms and colours is complemented by a wealth of birds and marine life. The diversity and abundance of marine life associated to spectacular submarine forms and high water transparency makes the property a diver's paradise.

Criterion (iv): The diversity of terrestrial and marine life is extraordinary and constitutes a unique ecoregion of high priority for biodiversity conservation. The number of species of vascular plants (695) present in this serial property is higher than that reported in other marine and insular properties included in the WH List. The number of species of fish (891) is also highest when compared to a number of marine and insular properties. In addition the marine endemism is important, with 90 endemic fishes. The serial property contains 39% of the world's total number of marine mammal's species and a third of the world's total number of marine cetacean's species. In addition the serial property includes a good sample of the Sonora desert ecosystems, considered one of the richest deserts in the world from the desert biodiversity point of view.

3. Commends the State Party of Mexico for its efforts in conserving this complex property, as well as all other institutions, NGOs and the private sector that are contributing to its conservation;

4. Recommends the State Party to:

a) continue working towards creating marine reserves around all of the islands included in this serial property and, subsequently, to propose these areas as an extension of the World Heritage property, and to report regularly, starting at 1st February 2007, on the creation of marine reserves;

b) keep the Committee informed on the revised plan proposed to develop the "Nautical Stairway for the Sea of Cortez" and to ensure that the revision of this project place due considerations on the international responsibility of the State Party in ensuring the long-term integrity of the property; and

c) keep the Committee informed on progress achieved towards the development and implementation of the marine ecological planning of the Sea of Cortez.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Mexico
Year: 2005
Decision Code: 29 COM 8B.9