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    2007-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

The Desired state of conservation was sent to the World Heritage Centre in February 2010 and is currently under review.

Corrective measures identified

A large number of different individual activities are grouped under the following 15 main components:

a) Reducing the number of access points to the Galápagos Islands, by sea and by air, to decrease the probabilities of new invasive species being introduced;

b) Optimizing of resources allocated to the Galápagos conservation agencies, particularly in relation to GNP (Galápagos National Park), INGALA (Instituto Nacional Galápagos/ National Institute for Galápagos) and Agrocalidad (Ecuadorian Animal and Plant Inspection Service);

c) Strengthening of the selection process for the highest ranking posts in INGALA and SESA;

d) Reducing significantly the number of illegal immigrants in the Galápagos Islands, and the resulting impacts of unregulated population growth;

e) Regulating recreational fishing activities;

f) Controlling the number of tourists coming to the Galápagos Islands;

g) Applying regulations on inspecting and fumigating aircrafts;

h) Applying quarantine measures and the phytosanitary practices in cruisers and freighters both between the islands and between the mainland and Galápagos;

i) Counteracting the overexploitation of fish resources and providing opportunities for alternative employment for the small-scale fishing sector;

j) Counteracting opportunities for the dispersal of invasive species through movement of people and freight between islands and between the mainland and Galápagos;

k) Increasing staff and infrastructure at departure points on the mainland and entry points on the Galápagos for effective inspections;

l) Ensuring that cabotage boats meet the basic conditions for cargo and food transportation, decreasing the risk of introduction of invasive species;

m) Planning and implementing a capacity-building strategy among local residents to enable them to be better prepared to undertake technical or professional work traditionally done by foreigners;

n) Implementing the Integral Educational Reform which had been in the LOREG (Organic Law for the Species Regimen for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Galápagos) since 1998 yet without realisation;

o) Building capacity for early detection and eradication of invasive species arriving from the mainland or other islands.

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Time frames for the various activities of the Action Plan range from 2007 to 2012.

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

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 567,850
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 3.5 million for the capitalization of an introduced species trust fund, management of introduced species, tourism management studies and other technical support.

Previous monitoring missions

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

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2010

On 12 February 2010 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. The report included a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, and a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. Both are currently under review. 

The joint World Heritage Centre/ IUCN reactive monitoring mission requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009) took place from 28 April to 6 May 2010. The principal factor leading to the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger arises from the breakdown of its ecological isolation due to the increasing movement, mainly driven by growth in visitation, of people and goods between the islands and the continent, facilitating the introduction of alien species, which threaten native and endemic Galapagos species. Additional issues include illegal fishing pressures in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), and institutional instability. A full discussion on the 15 corrective measures is included in the mission report. The corrective measures addressed below are those for which further action is particularly required. Those corrective measures not appearing below are considered by the mission to be either being fully or largely implemented. 

 

a) Reducing the number of access points to the Galápagos Islands, by sea and by air, to decrease the probabilities of new invasive species being introduced

 

The number of continental air and maritime ports serving Galapagos has been reduced to three. At least basic biosecurity inspections services are available in all of these ports. In Galapagos, two commercial airports and four maritime ports receive commercial traffic directly from the continent. However, the mission noted that the multiple entry points disperse the limited biosecurity inspection capacity in the islands. Baltra, a small, dry island, is an ideal setting for the establishment of a single maritime entry point where biosecurity inspection and control infrastructure should be concentrated. In 2007, a large airport terminal was constructed at Villamil. The mission noted that it was clearly built to accommodate hundreds of passengers. Though the terminal is unused, the mission noted a strong sense of expectation among various stakeholders on the eventual approval of commercial air service, presenting a risk for the opening of a new access point in the future and increasing the level of threat to the property. The mission concludes that there are still too many access point and that this unnecessarily increases the risk of introduction and dispersal of invasive species.

 

b) Strengthening of the selection process for the highest ranking posts in INGALA (Instituto Nacional Galápagos) and SESA (Servicio Ecuatoriano de Sanidad agropecuaria) ;

 

The mission notes that the new constitution for Ecuador, adopted on 20 October 2008, resulted in the amalgamation of the National Institute for Galapagos (INGALA) and the Provincial Government, now directed by a governing council comprised of three ministers and the elected mayors of Galapagos. Though formally in existence, the council has not yet hired its director of operations – a post with significant responsibilities towards the property. The mission was assured that the position would be filled based on technical specifications, and by transparent means. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the recruitment process for the director of operations should be as fully transparent and competence-based as that of other key positions including the Director of GNPS and Agrocalidad, and that a clear line of communication between the Governing Council and the Director of GNPS should be assured.

 

c) Regulating recreational fishing activities

 

An international sport fishing tournament (focusing exclusively on bill-fish such as marlin and swordfish) was organized for December 2009 independent of the Galapagos National Park Service, which is responsible for all activities within the marine reserve. The activity was deemed illegal by the Park and was not allowed to proceed. The organizers re-packaged the tournament as “artisanal subsistence fishing”, an allowable fishing modality in the marine reserve. Under this modality, the same activity was subsequently authorized by the Park. The tournament focused on catching and releasing as many bill-fish as possible within the time frame of the tournament. Mortality of bill-fish is understood to be significant despite this practice The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are concerned by the Park’s de facto authorization of sport fishing within the Galapagos Marine Reserve, without a clear understanding of its likely impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. They note that there is a lack of information on the targeted bill-fish populations, which are under very high pressure from commercial and sports fishing activities throughout the eastern Pacific. They also consider authorization of this activity can be taken as one indicator of reduced effectiveness of the management of the Galapagos National Park Service. 

 

d) Controlling the number of tourists coming to the Galápagos Islands

 

Ship based capacity is strictly limited by government authorities and reached a steady state approximately 10 years ago. Land based capacity is limited only by the capacity of commercial aircraft delivering visitors. Land based visitation in Villamil is reported as having increased from 5,000 in 2003, to 25,000 in 2009. The mission noted that hotel construction and the opening of informal guest houses continue at a rapid pace often without the requisite municipal or Tourism Ministry approvals. One hotel, the Iguana Crossing in Villamil, is currently undergoing a judicial process for having built on GalapagosNational Park land. The National Park Service is struggling to implement its concession based model of new tourism services in the park and marine areas (scuba diving, inter-island transport, artisanal fishing, day tours by boat). It faces a growing number of non-licensed operators, judicial challenges to its decisions made and active and increasing pursuit of non-authorized activities within the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that there is a need to develop and implement a clear tourism vision and strategy for Galapagos, with a focus on establishing mechanisms to discourage rapid and uncontrolled growth visitation.

 

e) Quarantine measures and the biosecurity practices in cruisers and freighters both between the islands and between the mainland and Galápagos

 

The mission found that the weakest link in the biosecurity control chain continues to be the shipping of goods from the continent to the islands. Seven small ships ranging in age from 28 to 56 years are involved, using three different loading facilities in Guayaquil. Though minimum biosecurity standards have been imposed, experts indicate that the very design of these ships render effective controls very difficult. Efforts are underway, with the support of WildAid, to equip one private dockyard (of the three currently being used by Galapagos bound cargo ships) with the necessary biosecurity inspection infrastructure. Only ships using such facilities should be licensed to serve Galapagos – and these should be audited regularly by certified third parties. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN strongly recommend policies leading to the replacement of the existing ships with fewer, larger modern vessels designed to facilitate biosecurity control. In Galapagos, goods are offloaded in a time consuming and disorganised fashion at each of the three main settlements. The main towns have no deep water docks, notwithstanding the fact that establishing cargo handling facilities there would also seriously conflict with these towns’ vocation as ecotourism centres. The best option remains the use of BaltraIsland, with its pre-existing deep water facility, as the only receiving terminal in the islands.

 

f) Increasing staff and infrastructure at departure points on the mainland and entry points on the Galápagos for effective inspections

 

Agrocalidad, the biosecurity agency, informed the mission that it was in the process of hiring 25 new technicians. Sniffer dogs (for drugs and shark fins) are now working in the three main ports of the islands. However, the mission noted that these dogs are not trained to detect plant and other animal matter, which are the primary imports of concern in terms of invasive species. The National Park is also reported to be installing x-ray equipment at the Baltra airport to improve the detection of banned products. It remains critical to concentrate all resources in fewer access points, such as BaltraIsland.

 

 

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN take note of significant progress in the consolidation of Agrocalidad. However, its effectiveness is compromised due to the dispersal of its efforts amongst several entry points. Similarly, in the absence of a modern approach to handling cargo loading in Guayaquil, and as long as the ships transporting the cargo to the islands do not meet adequate standards, investment by Agrocalidad will be significantly undermined. Until this chain is effectively completed, this property will continue to remain vulnerable to the arrival of new invasive species. 

 

Though the Galapagos National Park Service appears to be implementing its day to day activities efficiently, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN are concerned about its ability to deal with long term strategic issues. The recent forced ceding of 70 hectares of park lands to the town of Puerto Ayora is also an indicator of reduced effectiveness of the Park’s management. This was also the case in the Park’s reversal regarding sport fishing tournament brought on by pressure from a small group of foreign and local stakeholders. These incidents point to a renewed weakening of institutional governance in the islands, whereby outside agents, and not the national authorities, take the initiative in determining how park lands and the marine reserve are to be used. 

 

Overall, though measurable progress has been achieved on the fifteen correctives measures defined for the property, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN conclude that significant progress should be attained on the points below (in relation to the relevant corrective measures): 

 

1. Complete and secure the biosecurity chain of inspection and control. Particular emphasis on (corrective measures a, h and k):

 

· Establishing a single cargo loading port in Guayaquil, with the necessary infrastructure in place.

· Commit to replacing the current aging and mal-adapted cargo ships with new ships designed to facilitate the application of biosecurity measures.

· Application of established bio-security practices, with regular compliance audits, at cargo loading and off-loading points, and on cargo ships.

· Carrying out the feasibility of selecting Baltra as the only Galapagos port authorized to receive cargo directly from the continent.

· Ensure that the Villamil air terminal is not put in service and consider its dismantling to discourage speculation.

 

1. Demonstrate that the national authorities are leading tourism policy development and implementation for Galapagos so that the property’s OUV is not compromised by unregulated growth and development (corrective measures e and f);

 

· The State Party develop and implement a clear tourism strategy for Galapagos, with a focus on establishing mechanisms to discourage rapid and uncontrolled growth in visitation. A moratorium on sport fishing until a) a government run risk assessment on the potential impact of sports fishing on the Galapagos nature tourism brand be done, and if a decision to proceed is taken, b) sufficient scientific evidence is obtained allowing for the development of clear regulations set by the Galapagos National Park Service (e.g. intensity, seasonality, zonation, licensing).

· The State Party consider implementing a mechanism, such as imposing an upper limit to the number of Park entrance permits awarded annually, which would give it the time to develop and implement effective tourism management mechanisms.

 

3. Ensure that that the decisions taken by the new Governing Council of the Galapagos prioritise consideration of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property (corrective measure c).

 

· Ensure that the recruitment process for the director of operations of the Governing Council is as fully transparent and competence-based as that of other key positions including the Director of GNPS and Agrocalidad.

· Ensure a clear line of communication between the Governing Council and the Director of GNPS with regard to the management of the National Park and Marine Reserve, as well as on all policies affecting the Park.

 

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that until these remaining corrective measures are achieved, the property should remain on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7A.15

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7A.13, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Commends the State Party for progress made in the implementation of several of the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) and included in the Action Plan produced in response to the Presidential Decree No. 270;

4. Acknowledges the reception of the draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, and requests IUCN and the World Heritage Centre to work with the State Parity to finalize this, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011;

5. Notes with concern the continued threats to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, arising primarily from the uncompleted work in terms of securing of the biosecurity chain of inspection and control, the continued lack of effective response to rapid and uncontrolled tourism related development, and the renewed evidence that the management authority cannot effectively deal with important challenges to the integrity of the national park and marine reserve;

6. Urges the State Party to continue to strengthen its efforts to implement all of the corrective measures established for the property, in particular:

a) Completing the biosecurity chain of inspection and control by establishing the latest facilities at a single Guayaquil cargo loading dock, by committing to replacing the current aging and mal-adapted cargo ships with new ships designed to facilitate the application of biosecurity measures, and by considering Baltra as the only point authorized to receive cargo from the continent,

b) Developing and implementing a clear tourism strategy for Galapagos, with a focus on establishing mechanisms to discourage rapid and uncontrolled growth in visitation and with a careful assessment of the desirability and feasibility of authorizing sports fishing in the islands, the State Party being encouraged to consider the feasibility of temporarily limiting the number of visitors to the islands while such policies are developed and implemented,

c) Strengthening the Galapagos National Park Service's capacity to deal effectively with challenges to its mandate;

7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a report on the state of conservation of the property, with emphasis on the corrective measures identified in its 15-point Action Plan, including a focus on items described in Paragraph 6 above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011, and illustrating how corrective measures are contributing to addressing the requirements linked to the draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value;

8. Decides to remove the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) from the List of World Heritage in Danger and further requests the World Heritage Centre to continue to cooperate with the State Party to follow up and assess the progress on the implementation of the recommendations contained in Paragraph 6 above, in line with the draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value proposed by the State Party.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8C.3

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-10/34.COM/7A and WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add, WHC-10/34.COM/7A.Add.2),

2. Decides to remove the following properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger: