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

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 SESA (Servicio Ecuatoriano de Sanidad Agropecuaria - 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.

Previous monitoring missions

June 1996: UNESCO / IUCN mission (including Chairperson); June 2003: UNESCO mission; April 2005: UNESCO informal visit; February-March 2006: UNESCO / IUCN mission; April 2007: UNESCO / IUCN mission (including Chairperson).

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Inadequate implementation of the Special Law on Galápagos and lack of enforcement;

b) Poor governance;

c) Inadequate and ineffective quarantine measures;

d) Illegal fishing;

e) Instability of Park Director’s position;

f) High immigration rate;

g) Unsustainable tourism development;

h) Educational reform not implemented.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

The State Party submitted two reports to the World Heritage Centre in the past year. A first report (in Spanish) was received in November 2007, including 31 annexes, and noted progress made in implementing the corrective measures of the Action Plan produced in response to the Presidential Decree No. 270. In February 2008, the State Party submitted a further report on the state of conservation of the property to the World Heritage Centre (again in Spanish), including updated information on the implementation of the Action Plan. The February report includes 9 annexes on the different agreements, resolutions and new regulations that have been recently approved and which support several key actions. These include:

· Decision-making on key planning and management issues has been transferred to local bodies; to this end, various institutions like the Council of INGALA and its respective Technical Committees and the Inter-institutional Management Authority (AIM in Spanish) have been reactivated. These and other bodies have adopted resolutions, plans and regulations which focus on dealing with a number of the above-noted issues, including approval of the Plan for the Total Control of Introduced Species, the regulations on migratory control, a moratorium on the import of vehicles, prohibition of aircraft landings arriving from airports other than Quito or Guayaquil.

§ At the national level, instruments for integrated planning have been developed - amongst them the National Development Plan for 2007-2010 which includes a specific plan for Galápagos.

§ Important achievements were made in the control and eradication of introduced species. The report notes that 2936 goats, 45 pigs, 135 donkeys and 56 cows were removed from various islands between December 2007 and January 2008. A campaign has been started to eradicate black rats with a pilot phase underway in the Island of Seymour Norte, while the eradication of the Tilapia fish from the El Junco lake was reported as being underway in early 2008 – by February 40,000 fish were removed from this very small lake and monitoring continues. The appearance of goats on islands previously devoid of them represents a worrisome trend which could jeopardize massive investments previously made in goat removal. The mysterious January 2008 killing of 53 sea lions for no apparent reason adds to this concern.

§ Since September 2007, the Galápagos Invasive Species Fund (GISF) started its capitalization process with USD 1 million received by the Ecuadorian Government and USD 2.19 million raised under the auspices of the World Heritage Centre project supported by the United Nations Foundation, Conservation International’s Global Conservation Fund and the Galapagos Conservancy. The capitalization target for the GISF is set at USD 15 million.

§ Further work on the restoration of ecosystems and the population of key threatened species has been carried out, including of giant turtles on Isabela Island. A plan for the ecological restoration of Pinta Island has been prepared and its implementation started in March 2008.

§ Actions on fisheries have been focussing on the development of a draft chapter on fisheries management which will form part of the management plan of the Marine Reserve of Galápagos. This is being discussed with the fisheries cooperatives for their endorsement before it is submitted for approval. The World Heritage Centre’s project “Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape” has supported work with fishermen in establishing small no-take zones, along with studying the feasibility of relinquishing fishing rights in limited sensitive areas in exchange for facilitating access to credit for shifting to non-extractive activities.

§ Measures with regard to tourism management have focussed on a) the development of regulations for specific tourism activities; b) the development of a study on carrying capacity for ecotourism that started in September 2007 and aims to establish the optimal number of tourism operations on every island; c) a capacity building needs assessment, which was conducted to establish a system of continuing training for natural guides working in the Galápagos National Park; d) satellite based tracking of cruise ships is being implemented, which will facilitate monitoring of cruise ship movements, ensuring they respect pre-approved itineraries; e) anchoring buoys are being developed to prevent further damages of lying anchors on sensitive sea bottoms and f) the Direction of the Galápagos National Park initiated a participatory process to establish a new model of tourism for the archipelago and a system of tourism concessions. With international assistance from the USAID a workshop on tourism management was implemented in October 2007 to discuss the design and further establishment of a new system of tourism concessions. The World Heritage Centre supported work in this area with a USD 40,000 grant in December 2007.

§ Immigration control has been enforced through the application of the Special Regulation of Qualification and Control of Residence (since September 2007), and the implementation of a “Personal Card for Transit Control” which will help to identify people trying to stay in the islands over the maximum time (90 days) permitted by the law.

§ On 20 December 2007, the Ministry of Education signed an agreement with UNESCO Quito office to reform the educational system on the Galápagos Islands. Financing is currently being sought for this initiative.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note with satisfaction that the technical capacity of the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Foundation has developed tremendously over the years and together, with the necessary resources, these organizations appear able to overcome many of the management challenges related to introduced species and to ecological restoration. However, the underlying socio-economic and political contexts remain difficult and promoting positive movement in these areas will require a much broader and sustained approach from the various government agencies and the civil society. In this regard, there are a number of issues that remain to be fully addressed:

§ Whilst the State Party report notes progress on the issues mentioned above it is not yet clear how these actions are leading, or will lead to actual changes in the field. Most of the actions implemented so far are predominantly process-oriented and many of them remain to be formally approved. No information on deadlines is included in the report. The report does not provide evidence on whether or how some of these actions have been implemented. The need for the State Party to move rapidly from planning to the actual approval and implementation of activities must be emphasized.

§ Whilst the report notes that around 2,000 people have regularized their residence status through the application of the Special Regulation of Qualification and Control of Residence; there is no information on how many illegal immigrants have been identified and what policy will be adopted in their regard; thus making it difficult to assess the actual impacts of this regulation in limiting the population growth through immigration.

§ In March 2008, the Director of the Galápagos National Park was removed from her position and an interim director was appointed. The instability of the Park’s Director position, and the rapid succession of 12 Directors and interim Directors over a 3 year period (2002-2006) was a major cause of concern at the time and a key management issue linked to poor governance and inadequate implementation of conservation and management programmes. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7A.13

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7A,

2. Recalling Decision 31 COM 7B.35, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007),

3. Reminds the State Party that the state of conservation report has to be submitted in one of the two working languages of the World Heritage Convention (French and English);

4. Commends the State Party for progress achieved on the implementation of some of the key corrective measures in the Action Plan produced in response to the Presidential Decree No. 270, on its continuing success in the area of control and eradication of introduced species and on the progress made in establishing and capitalizing the Galapagos Invasive Species Trust Fund, and urges the State Party to continue their implementation;

5. Also urges the State Party to undertake a rigorous and transparent process whereby the position of the Galapagos National Park Service Director is filled without delay and underscores the importance of ongoing institutional and political commitment to avoid further instability of this position ;

6. Requests the State Party to include in future reports sufficient quantitative information to objectively assess the actual impacts in the field of the activities implemented towards addressing the conservation, social and development problems affecting the property and provide a definite timeframe for its completion;

7. Notes with concern that fundamental conservation issues and conflicts associated with the key threats that justified the inscription of this property in the List of World Heritage in Danger remain;

8. Reiterates its request to the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to develop a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity and a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, based on the results of the requested baseline survey, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

9. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, a comprehensive report on the state of conservation of the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009, with particular emphasis on the identified corrective measures in its 15 point Action Plan. The report should also address the concerns noted above, along with progress on the various actions tasked by the Presidential Decree No. 270;

10. Decides to retain the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.