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Galápagos Islands

Ecuador
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Governance
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Invasive/alien terrestrial species
  • Legal framework
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Legal framework (inadequate implementation of the Special Law on Galápagos)
  • Governance
  • Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing / collection of aquatic resources
  • Alien Invasive Species / biosecurity (inadequate and ineffective quarantine measures)
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population (high immigration rate)
  • Impacts of tourism and recreation
  • Major visitor accommodation and associated infrastructure
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2016

Total amount provided to the property: USD3.5 million for the capitalization of an introduced species Trust Fund, management of introduced species, tourism management studies and other technical support.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 25 (from 1979-2001)
Total amount approved : 567,850 USD
2001 Emergency assistance request for Galapagos Islands ... (Approved)   50,000 USD
1998 Ecological Monitoring in the Galapagos Archipelago - ... (Approved)   92,500 USD
1998 Urgent development of ecological monitoring through a ... (Approved)   20,000 USD
1996 Preparation of Interpretation Materials for the ... (Not approved)   0 USD
1994 Fire figthing equipment for Galapagos (Approved)   50,000 USD
1992 Revision of the management plan for Galapagos Islands (Approved)   29,000 USD
1992 One fellowship for an officer from the Galapagos ... (Approved)   3,100 USD
1992 Support to 3 resource persons and organization of a ... (Approved)   15,000 USD
1992 Financial contribution to a training course organized ... (Approved)   20,000 USD
1990 Training in Costa Rica of one specialist from the ... (Approved)   2,000 USD
1990 Study to investigate the impacts of tourism on ... (Approved)   14,000 USD
1989 Purchase of 2 motor-boats and spare parts, as well as ... (Approved)   59,500 USD
1989 Financial contribution to the Charles Darwin Foundation ... (Approved)   20,000 USD
1989 One study grant enabling the superintendent of ... (Approved)   4,000 USD
1988 Purchase of 4 boats for strengthening the protection of ... (Approved)   54,000 USD
1988 Consultancy services for reviewing and preparing a ... (Approved)   4,250 USD
1987 1.5 month consultancy mission to follow-up the zoning ... (Approved)   2,500 USD
1987 Contribution to consultancy mission for the development ... (Approved)   2,000 USD
1987 Provision of 2 experts for 3.5 months to advise on the ... (Approved)   15,000 USD
1986 Financial support to the environmental education and ... (Approved)   20,000 USD
1985 Contribution to the training of an environmental ... (Approved)   2,500 USD
1985 4-month training in management of protected areas ... (Approved)   6,000 USD
1985 Contribution to purchase of equipment for Galapagos ... (Approved)   10,500 USD
1982 Financial contribution to a training course organised ... (Approved)   10,000 USD
1979 Purchase of equipment to eliminate invasive species in ... (Approved)   50,000 USD
1979 Training seminar in the Galapagos (Approved)   12,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**

June 1996: Joint UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission (including World Heritage Committee Chairperson); February 2003: UNESCO mission; June 2003: UNESCO mission; April 2005: UNESCO informal visit; February-March 2006: Joint UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2007: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission (including World Heritage Committee Chairperson); April 2009: UNESCO informal visit; April-May 2010: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 26 February 2016, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/documents. Reported progress is structured according to four thematic areas and can be summarized as follows:

Biosecurity:

  • Promotion of local sustainable agriculture to reduce biosecurity risks from imported fresh products along with quarantine inspection of imported produce;
  • Partial replacement of cargo vessels, facilitating control and quarantine efforts;
  • Definition of standards for transportation between the islands, complementing existing environmental standards for vessel operation in the Galapagos Marine Reserve;
  • Construction of a new port in Guayaquil is planned for 2016 and 2017 to optimize biosecurity control and management in the main mainland city servicing the archipelago;
  • Created in 2012, the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG) (in Spanish: Agencia de Regulación y Control de la Bioseguridad y Cuarentena para Galápagos”) operates in key airports and seaports with a comprehensive mission applicable to all terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Monitoring, management and eradication of alien invasive species (AIS) is conducted in coordination with other agencies;
  • The Galapagos Invasive Species Trust Fund (FEIG) has enabled projects dedicated to the eradication of AIS;

Tourism

  • While a 2013 moratorium on new hotel development was lifted in 2014, there are strict regulations for accommodation infrastructure;
  • An ecotourism model adopted in 2010 is being refined based on four pillars: (i) governance, (ii) destination re-engineering, (iii) tourism promotion / marketing and (iv) monitoring, including through the Galapagos Tourism Observatory.

Evolving governance arrangements

  • A new Special Law (Ley Orgánica de Régimen Especial de Galápagos) came into force in June 2015. It establishes comprehensive objectives based on a set of overarching principles and defines institutional responsibilities among other stipulations;
  • The Galapagos Sustainable Development and Land Use Plan and the Management Plan for the Protected Areas of Galapagos for Good Living are presented as overarching planning frameworks.

Solid waste

  • Solid waste is subject to recycling efforts in three centres and otherwise disposed of in landfills on the main inhabited islands. One of the landfills does not yet hold applicable licenses and approved plans.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

The information provided by the State Party addresses most concerns defined in previous World Heritage decisions.

Biosecurity risks are directly related to the extensive increase of traffic, tourism and the resident population. While further progress in the planning of the new port in Guayaquil, FEIG-supported projects to eradicate alien invasive species and refined standards guiding transportation are welcomed, alien invasive species remain a threat to the property and biosecurity management and control continue to require consolidation.

Annual visitor numbers have been exceeding 200,000 since 2013, compared to around only 40,000 in the early 1990s, and the State Party reports 215,691 visitors in 2014 and 113,613 visitors in only the first semester of 2015. Such rapid growth in a fragile island setting raises concerns that are further exacerbated by the limited enforcement of the existing regulatory framework. The recently developed regulations on hotel development, including through the 2015 Special Law, are noted with some concern; their efficiency will need to be closely evaluated. A clear tourism strategy for Galapagos with a focus on establishing mechanisms to discourage rapid and uncontrolled growth in visitation, which was identified by the Committee as a pending issue when it decided to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 34th session, is still lacking. Development of such a strategy was one of the key requests made by the Committee already in Decision 34 COM 7A.15, adopted in 2010.

The complex institutional landscape and limited funding continue to compromise effective and coordinated efforts to address both biosecurity and tourism. There is also concern that the new Special Law may further complicate the relationships between all institutions and stakeholders involved. Concerns with regards to the new Law were also raised in a civil society petition which was submitted to UNESCO in August 2015.

Consistent with previous analyses, recommendations and Committee decisions, it is essential that the capacity and resources of institutions involved in the management of the property, as well as coordination among them, is further consolidated to ensure the broad scale of the multiple challenges is addressed in a comprehensive manner and secures the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property as a whole. Six years after the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, which the Committee had explicitly associated with concrete expectations in terms of addressing the many challenges, several of those challenges still remain unresolved, including the development of a clear tourism strategy, as outlined above.

Other issues, such as biosecurity, require further consolidated efforts. While the progress achieved by the State Party should be welcomed, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to continue its efforts in order to fully address all pending issues, particularly biosecurity risks and tourism growth. It is further recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite, before its 42nd session, an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess whether all remaining issues noted by the World Heritage Committee at the time when the property was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger have been addressed.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.74
Galápagos Islands (Ecuador) (N 1bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 34 COM 7A.15, 35 COM 7B.30, 36 COM 7B.32, and 38 COM 7B.83, adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the progress achieved by the State Party in implementing the recommendations of the 2010 Reactive Monitoring mission;
  4. Notes the progress achieved by the State Party in addressing solid waste management and requests the State Party to continue its efforts to establish an effective system of solid waste management and to also improve the management of sewage on land and sea;
  5. Also requests the State Party to provide further information regarding the recent rezoning of the marine part of the property announced in March 2016, in view of evaluating the impacts on threats from illegal fishing raised in previous Committee decisions;
  6. Expresses its concern that comprehensive and effective management responses, in particular as regards the fundamental and related challenges of biosecurity and tourism, continue to require further strengthening of current efforts and urges the State Party to fully implement the requests made by the Committee when it decided to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 34th session, including:
    1. Development and implementation of a clear tourism strategy for Galápagos, with a focus on establishing mechanisms to discourage rapid and uncontrolled growth in visitation,
    2. Completion of the biosecurity chain of inspection and control by establishing the dedicated cargo facilities at a single Guayaquil cargo loading dock and by considering Baltra as the only authorized point of entry to the islands to receive cargo from the continent;
  7. Further requests the State Party to invite, before its 42nd session in 2018, an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the progress achieved in addressing these pending issues;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.74

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 34 COM 7A.15, 35 COM 7B.30, 36 COM 7B.32, and 38 COM 7B.83, adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011), 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Welcomes the progress achieved by the State Party in implementing the recommendations of the 2010 Reactive Monitoring mission;
  4. Notes the progress achieved by the State Party in addressing solid waste management and requests the State Party to continue its efforts to establish an effective system of solid waste management and to also improve the management of sewage on land and sea;
  5. Also requests the State Party to provide further information regarding the recent rezoning of the marine part of the property announced in March 2016, in view of evaluating the impacts on threats from illegal fishing raised in previous Committee decisions;
  6. Expresses its concern that comprehensive and effective management responses, in particular as regards the fundamental and related challenges of biosecurity and tourism, continue to require further strengthening of current efforts and urges the State Party to fully implement the requests made by the Committee when it decided to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 34th session, including:
    1. Development and implementation of a clear tourism strategy for Galapagos, with a focus on establishing mechanisms to discourage rapid and uncontrolled growth in visitation,
    2. Completion of the biosecurity chain of inspection and control by establishing the dedicated cargo facilities at a single Guayaquil cargo loading dock and by considering Baltra as the only authorized point of entry to the islands to receive cargo from the continent;
  7. Further requests the State Party to invite, before its 42nd session in 2018, an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the progress achieved in addressing these pending issues;
  8. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Report year: 2016
Ecuador
Date of Inscription: 1978
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 2007-2010
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2016) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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