1.         Gal├ípagos 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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-1996)
Total amount approved: USD 405,350
For details, see page https://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 https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1996

At its nineteenth session, the World Heritage Committee discussed extensively the issues and threats facing the site. It recommended that the Director of the World Heritage Centre accept the invitation from the State Party to visit the Galapagos Islands, with the Chairperson of the Committee and appropriate technical advisors, in order to discuss the pressures on and present condition of the site and to identify measures to overcome the problems. It further invited 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 be recommended for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

At the time of preparation of this document the mission was scheduled for early June. IUCN informed the Centre that it has received regular information on the deteriorating situation at the site from their office in Quito. The Centre also received additional communications from the Charles Darwin Foundation and other NGOs directed at a number of issues. This information was referred to the State Party, but so far no comments have been received.

Action Required

Following the conclusions of the World Heritage Committee, the Bureau may wish to examine the state of conservation of this site in light of the findings of the mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1996

At its nineteenth session, the World Heritage Committee discussed extensively the issues and threats facing the site. It recommended that the Director of the World Heritage Centre accept the invitation from the State Party to visit the Galapagos Islands, with the Chairperson of the Committee and appropriate technical advisors, in order to discuss the pressures on and present condition of the site and to identify measures to overcome the problems. It further invited 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 be recommended for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Bureau at its twentieth session considered the report of the mission led by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee (1-11 June 1996) to examine the situation of the Galapagos Islands. The Bureau concluded that serious problems exist, such that immediate remedial actions are essential to safeguard the values of the World Heritage site and the surrounding marine areas, while recognizing the considerable efforts made. The full report is contained in information document WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.13. As a follow-up to the Bureau's recommendations, letters were written by the Director-General of UNESCO to the President of Ecuador and by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee to the President of the Environmental Commission concerning the protection of the Galapagos and more specifically on the proposed "special legislation" for the Galapagos. The State Party advised the Centre that, despite an initial optimism with proposed legislation and due to amendments to the special legislation which weakened this constructive effort, the legislation was not adopted and will require further action. In the interim, it has been reported by the State Party that an outbreak of disease organisms has caused increased tortoise mortality; the Centre has been in touch with the authorities and investigative veterinarian searchers on this most recent issue and is advised that the necessary pathological studies are underway and these efforts require no short term assistance.

Following the findings and conclusions of the mission to the Galapagos Islands, the Bureau may wish to examine the state of conservation report which the authorities are requested to submit by 1 November 1996. The Bureau may wish to furthermore recommend to the Committee to examine this information and in light of this report and the findings of the mission, and in lieu of corrective legislation, to decide whether the site should now be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 20 BUR IV.7

The Bureau considered the report of the mission led by the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee (1-11 June 1996) to examine the situation of the Galapagos Islands and to formulate recommendations to improve the situation. The Bureau commended the Ecuador Government for its support to that mission and fully endorsed the recommendations contained in the report (see INF.12).

The Bureau concluded that serious problems exist, such that immediate remedial actions are essential to safeguard the values of the World Heritage site and the surrounding marine areas, while recognizing the considerable efforts already made.

i) Notably, the Bureau calls upon the President and the Congress of Ecuador to enact "special legislation" as an emergency measure, as discussed on the mission, most importantly to halt immigration from the mainland to the islands and to ensure the protection of the marine area surrounding the islands of the Galapagos.

ii) The Bureau requests that its Chairman transmit the mission report to the Ecuadorian authorities, outlining the threats to the site and actions necessary to redress the serious situation. The Bureau offers its continued collaboration and assistance in dealing with these problems and welcomes generous offers of assistance in training and preparing management schemes from the United States and Australia.

iii) The Bureau recommends further that the World Heritage Committee examines the measures taken by the authorities of Ecuador in the months to come on which the authorities are requested to report by 1 November 1996. The Committee will examine this information and decide whether the site should be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Upon adoption of the above text by the Bureau, the Delegate of Ecuador expressed his great satisfaction about the recognition of the problems that the management of Galapagos Islands is confronted with and the cooperative spirit with which the Bureau addressed this issue. He declared his gratitude for all international assistance provided to the Galapagos. He furthermore informed the Bureau that the President of Ecuador has received the final version of the special legislation for the Galapagos Islands and will submit it to the Congress within the shortest delay possible.

Decision Adopted: 20 BUR IX.A

Requests approved by the Bureau

Conservation Strategy and Preparation of a Management Plan for the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)

In the light of the state of conservation report presented on this site, the Bureau approved an amount of US$ 30,000 for the
elaboration of a management plan for the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras) subject to the submission of a detailed budget outline for this request.

Requests not approved by the Bureau

Architectural Design of the Interpretation Centre at the Galapagos National Park (Ecuador) (US$ 25,900)
The Bureau recalled the recent mission to the Galapagos Islands and recommended that the Galapagos National Park authorities submit a request to the next Bureau session in line with the orientations identified by the fact-finding mission to the Galapagos Islands led by the Chairperson.

Technical Assistance for Virunga National Park (Zaire) (US$100,000)

The Bureau did not recommend this request to be approved by the Committee in the light of the findings of the recent mission to this site, which is on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Bureau encouraged the State Party to submit a revised request in particular for a safeguarding plan for Virunga National Park as recommended by the expert mission.

Decision Adopted: 20 BUR IX.B

Preparation of Interpretation Materials for the Galapagos National Park (Ecuador) (US$29, 900)

The Bureau recalled that the total amount for promotion has already been fully committed and that no further funds are available.

Decision Adopted: 20 COM VII.D.31

VII.31 Galapagos National Park (Ecuador)

The Committee recalled extensive discussions at its eighteenth and nineteenth sessions, on the issues and threats facing the site and that the Bureau at its twentieth session considered the report of the mission led by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee (1-11 June 1996) to examine the situation of the Galapagos Islands. The Bureau, while recognizing the considerable efforts made, concluded that serious problems existed, such that immediate remedial actions were essential to safeguard the values of the World Heritage site and the surrounding marine areas.

As a follow-up to the Bureau's recommendations, letters were written by the Director-General of UNESCO and by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee to the President of Ecuador concerning the protection of the Galapagos and more specifically on the proposed "special legislation" for the Galapagos. This legislation was not adopted and further action would be required.

The Bureau at its twentieth extraordinary session took note of the report submitted by the authorities of Ecuador on 22 November 1996 (contained in Information Documents WHC-96/CONF.203/INF.2 and WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.23). The report provided an update on the situation of the Galapagos and steps to be taken by the Government of Ecuador. The report also addressed issues such as the restriction of immigration, the institutional strengthening, issues concerning the marine reserve, the preparation of a biodiversity management plan, as well as assistance from the Interamerican Development Bank.

The Bureau at its twentieth extraordinary session also considered the comments made by IUCN concerning the serious threats to the site which require long-term action and that placing the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger would support the efforts made by Ecuador and would mobilize additional international cooperation.

Several members of the Bureau stated that the requirements for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger stipulated in Paragraph 79 of the Operational Guidelines were met and concluded that the Bureau should recommend the Committee to inscribe the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. It was also said that this List should not to be considered as a "black list", but as a signal to take emergency actions for safeguarding and protection.

The Observer of Ecuador reiterated at the Bureau session the commitment of the Government of Ecuador to the preservation of the Galapagos Islands and recalled the great number of actions that had been taken by her Government. She informed the Bureau that the Delegate of Ecuador to the Committee would provide additional information at the twentieth session of the Committee. She indicated that her Government did not wish to see the site be included on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Bureau decided to transmit the above information to the Committee for action and to recommend the Committee to inscribe Galapagos National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The Committee at its twentieth session discussed the issue at length. The Delegate of Germany reiterated the discussions held and the number of threats facing the site outlined in the mission report contained in Working Document WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.13. Several delegates recalled paragraphs 77 to 81 of the Operational Guidelines and Article 11 of the Convention and emphasized that the Committee had already waited for one year for actions to be taken.

The Delegate of Ecuador thanked the Committee members for their interest and support in the preservation of the Galapagos Islands and explained the actions that the new Government was taking in order to implement the recommendations made by the Committee. He emphasized that the President had set up a working group to prepare the 'Special Galapagos Legislation' and that his Government had established a Ministry for the Environment to coordinate and advance the policies related to the preservation of the islands. He requested the Committee not to include the Galapagos National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

After a lengthy debate considering different options, including inscription of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger or giving more time to the Government to implement actions, the Delegate of Germany proposed the following text, which was adopted by consensus:

"The Committee decided to include the Galapagos National Park on the List of World Heritage in Danger effective 15 November 1997, unless a substantive written reply by Ecuador is received by 1 May 1997 and the Bureau, at its twenty-first session, determines that effective actions have been taken"

The Delegate of France asked the Committee to put on record that this decision was taken on an exceptional basis, as such a decision would normally be beyond the prerogative of the Bureau.