Guano Islands, Islets, and Capes National Reserve System form Peru (RNSIIPG)
Ministry of Culture
Department of Piura to the Department of Moquegua
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Latitude and Longitude, or coordinates UTM:
The Guano Islands, Islets and Capes are distributed along the Peruvian coast, are in protected areas, legally recognized and cover an area of 476 284.69 ha, (marine, coastal), so they must see the conservation rules and management of said units.
The oceanographic and fishing characteristics of the Peruvian sea are governed by a complex system of currents that give rise to one of the most important outcrops of the Guano Islands, Islets and Capes System. The Peruvian coastal current or Humboldt current, follows a general direction S-NONNO, with local variations and with an average speed of 15 miles per day. Its waters are temperate, temperature that has its origin in the outcrop of deep waters and, in turn, has its origin by trade winds from the anticyclone of the South Pacific.
Ecology and Life Zones
The guano islands, islets and capes cover almost the entire length of the Peruvian coast, from 6 ° to 17 ° S, and are all within the province with warm temperature of the Southeast Pacific, which extends from the north of Peru from 6 ° S to the center of Chile, with cold water between 18-19ºC. The main features of this province are a narrow continental shelf, deep sea pits, arid conditions on the coast and a high degree of endemism. 6% of the species of marine microalgae, almost 40% of the bivalve mollusks and 70% of the perciform marine fish, are endemic to the area. In this area you can find one of the most productive fisheries in the world, based mainly on anchovies, sardines and hake.These high biomasses of fish are the staple food of abundant populations of birds and marine mammals. This province is frequently altered by the occurrence of El Niño events, every 2-7 years breaks into the system and cause a rise in water temperatures and a significant drop in productivity of the system. This province is divided into four ecoregions: Central Peru, Humboldtiana, Central Chile and Araucania (Sullivan and Bustamante 1999), with guano islands, islets and capes contained in the ecoregions Central Peru and Humboldtiana.
According Schweigger (1964) appointed by the WWB 2006, the origin of the islands along our coastline would have given the evolution of the continent, as well as the collapse of the Cordillera de la Costa in the late Tertiary and beginning of the Quaternary, leaving as a vestige of it a series of islands along the coast.
There is not exact information about the typology of the soils of the islands and guano points. However, it can be mentioned that according to the national geological chart of the Geological, Mining and Metallurgical Institute-INEMMET, the soils of some islands are of gigantic formation, composed of sedimentary rocks, for example on the Isla Lobos de Tierra the soil is Composed of mineral material apparently from weathered phosphoric rock and mixed with guano from seabirds.
There are no underground water sources in the islands, which is corroborated by little or no vegetation presented. It is also necessary to take into account that some tips may be close to wetlands of fresh or salt water, which could generate some type of vegetation.
Characterization of the main biotic components
In the guano islands, islets and capes, the intertidal and subtidal zone is very important to conserve the biodiversity that is within 2 miles of protection.
The Peruvian rocky coastline is characterized by abundant vegetation of algae, especially at less than 15 meters deep. The biodiversity of giant algae grasslands (especially Macrocystis and Lessonia) has been little investigated in Peru. In a study of Playa Mendieta, in the central coast of Peru, it was found that in a small macroalgae meadow (Macrocystis) it served as a habitat for 62 species of molluscs, echinoderms and decapods, being the most diverse habitat of all the habitats found in the area. There is also a very special fauna among the rhizoids of algae such as Ophiactys kroyeri and several crustaceans such as Pachychelis crinimanus and Megalobrachioum peruvianum among many others (Majluf, 2002).
In the Peruvian coast there are two ecoregions, the Humboldtiana and the Tropical ecoregion of the South East Pacific. The presence of both ecoregions has allowed the existence of a great biodiversity estimated in 900 species (Chirichigno and Velez, 1998). However, in the north of the country, close to the coast of Lobos de Tierra and Lobos de Afuera, the two ecoregions converge, which is why this area has the greatest biodiversity of fish and invertebrate species in the Peruvian coast. Unlike areas where only the Humboldt Current circulates, characterized by high biomass values but relatively few species.
There are 25 species of marine mammals (cetaceans and pinnipeds) identified, of which four are resident species of the islands and capes, among the main ones are: The tonino (Phocoena spinipinnis). The bufeo (Tursiops truncatus). The dark dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obscurus). The common dolphin (Delphinus delphis). On the other hand, the whales that migrate along the Peruvian coasts in their migrations are: Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangiae) Sperm whale (Physeter cartodon) These species share their habitat with two pinnipeds. fine or two-furred wolf (Arctocephalus australis), the wolf or one-hair wolf (Otaria byronia) and one mustelid, the sea cat, chungungo or huallanque (Lontra felina) (INRENA, 2006).
The main species of marine birds (related to guano) along the coast are: the Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti), Potoyunco (Pelecanoides garnotti), Peruvian Gaviotin (Sterna lorata), Red-legged cormorant (Phalacrocórax gaimardi), Guanay (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii), Peruvian Piquero (Sula variegat), Peruvian Pelican (Pelecanus thagus).
Exploitation of guano in pre-Hispanic Peru
Guano was a fertilizer widely used by pre-Hispanic cultures. The oldest chronicle of its use is described in the work of Inca Gracilazo de la Vega in his "Royal Comments" (1604), which describes the abundant populations of birds that existed in those times and, furthermore, cites that it was forbidden to disturb to these species in their areas of residence, a crime that was punishable by death (Gomero, 1991). During the last century, when there were still large deposits of guano on the islands, you could find remains and artifacts from these cultures. These artifacts were extracted during the boom of the extraction of guano and today probably nothing remains of value as there are no large deposits of guano on any of the islands.
The Inca administration, wise and farsighted, divided the islands, as already said, into sectors - some guano, others fishing, others, finally, seafood and various sea animals for fair use, without quarrel or harm of anyone, of the gifts of nature. The people of one sector could not benefit from the products of another sector. The division, at the time of the last Incas, was rigid and was clearly marked by milestones or rows of stacked stones, which set a limit, always respected. Violators of this rule were subjected to severe reprimand. To the recidivists, they were thrown off, with loss of life.
The guano and the anchoveta in the Republican era
The Managing Company of Guano is one of the best examples of success in the sustainable management of a natural resource worldwide (Apaza and Santa Maria 2001a, Duffy 1994). In the middle of the XIX century the exploitation of guano began to have great importance for the economy of Peru. In those years, the guano began to be used as the main fertilizer of the agricultures of countries like England and France. In a document by José Casimiro Ulloa (1859), the commercial importance of this resource for Peru's income is described; also it highlights its strengths compared to the use of other fertilizers that time and also noted some irregularities in its management and administration, as speculation of this product and its undervaluation export levels. Exploitation occurred continuously, financed almost entirely the country's development until 1879, when the Pacific War (Bardella 1989) began. After the war in 1890, the government approved the disadvantageous Contract Grace to pay the important external debt that Peru had acquired, especially with the English.
The Guano Era, also called the Republic of Guano, was an era in the republican history of Peru between 1845 and 1866 during which the export of guano from the islands of the Peruvian coast transformed the economy and national politics. Its beginning is considered with the first government of General Ramón Castilla.
Although the large deposits of guano no longer exist, you can still see in all of them the facilities of the guano management company and serve as an example of one of the few cases in the world of existing management of this natural resource (File of Creation of the RNSSIIPG).
Beginning in 1955, the explosive growth of the anchoveta fishery for the production of fishmeal began, coinciding with a period of population decline of guano bird populations, which so far have no signs of recovery. As a result of a strong El Niño event in 1965, there was a very high mortality of guano birds and, having reached the highest levels of the fisheries, thereafter the populations of guano birds never reach the levels prior to the development of fisheries (Annex 09). During this period the CAG disappeared and the management of the guano went through a series of administrative changes.
Today, populations of guano birds are in the lowest population levels in its history, probably due to a combination of overfishing of anchoveta and increased frequency and intensity of El Niño events in the past three decades. With the decline in the bird population, it also decreases the production of guano industry has allowed the conservation of sea birds during the last century. The population of the three species of sea birds not currently passes two million and annual production of guano is now a fraction of what it was at the beginning of the last century.
In general, there are no human communities or groups that inhabit areas permanently included in the guano system, except Lobos de Tierra Island, where groups of fishermen live in the sea to monitor maritime repopulation concessions that exist within the 2 miles The guano islands, islets and capes are inhabited exclusively by the AGRORURAL guardians (between 1 and 3 people in each) permanently. However, during the guano extraction campaigns, groups of 200-400 workers are mobilized who remain temporarily at the cape or island being exploited for a period of approximately 2-6 months.
Current use of resources
Use of guano
According to the conservation policies of the Peruvian State, explicit in the National Biodiversity Strategy, which is framed within the mandates of the Convention on Biological Diversity, populations of guano birds must be protected and the necessary operative mechanisms must be created to ensure its sustainability. The economic arguments related to this principle are related to the use of natural fertilizers for the development of "green" industries today they are highly valued in international markets and that must also be considered in the development of our agricultural market.
In Peru, you have agricultural products and the ideal fertilizer - guano - to achieve this goal. A concept that must be addressed before this proposal, is to consider that the sale of biodiversity products should not contain the classic ideas of consumer markets, that is, produce large volumes to sustain a large-scale market, but sell the exclusivity of products derived from biodiversity.
The guano has already proven through its history that it is one of the best fertilizers that increases the productivity of crops where it is applied and does not harm the environment. The guano of the islands is an organic fertilizer with a content of nitrogen (13%), phosphorus (11%) and potassium (2%), in addition to other minor elements of great importance for the development of agriculture. It was, at the time, the fertilizer most used in the country until the entry into the market of synthetic fertilizers, following the development of the petrochemical industry in the international context.
It is estimated that, with the existing technology in the world, the 25,000 tons expected to be extracted annually in the coming years could be transformed into some 75,000 tons of various fertilizers of various characteristics that would result in greater productivity of the national agriculture and they would also be an important source of foreign currency for the country because of the international market that is currently demanding this type of fertilizer. It would also be possible to produce liquid fertilizers to be used through technified irrigation systems, which are increasingly used in the agriculture of the Peruvian coast. The situation described above would make Peru the most important exporter of inputs for organic agriculture potential markets in Europe, North America and countries like Chile and Argentina. It would also be a major exporter of certified organic products so appreciated today in the international market.
In the guano islands and capes there are no fishermen who inhabit them permanently. In the case of Lobos de Tierra Island, the most visited, several craft boats enter seasonally to carry out fishing activities. Interaction on other islands is varied and less intense, especially in the two miles area. Artisanal fisheries are carried out with various gear, such as curtain and purse seine nets, painting, diving with a compressor, extraction of invertebrates such as a fan shell, little words, etc.
According to information from the National Aquaculture Cadaster prepared by PRODUCE, in the north of the country, there are sea areas authorized by the General Directorate of Captaincies and Coast Guards for the development of mariculture activities. In these areas, the granting of aquaculture concessions or repopulation authorizations is feasible.
The fan shell (Argopecten purpuratus), is one of the most studied species of molluscs given its economic importance, and the only one with which aquaculture activities are developed in some areas close to the islands and guano points.
Recreation and tourism
The guano islands, islets and capes offer a wide variety of natural attractions for different segments of tourism oriented to the enjoyment of nature and the observation of wildlife. The global increase of 4.3% annual arrivals, between 1989 and 1998, has made tourism the sector with the highest growth rate worldwide, currently representing the largest industry in the world.
The guano islands, islets and capes offer great potential for the development of ecotourism in the following fields:
The guano islands, islets and capes with their large concentrations of guano birds show a unique habitat in the world, with excellent possibilities to observe birds in large numbers which makes them extremely attractive and with great potential for the development of tourism "birdwatching " in Peru.
Observation of cetaceans:
Peru has more than 25 species of whales and dolphins. Many guano islands, especially in the north, are found in the best areas for whale watching, which has generated greater interest to visit these places, with great potential for greater income for the country.
It is a growing international market because the waters around the guano islands, islets and capes offer a high value for the recreational diving market, since they offer the opportunity to dive in little known and relatively intact areas, which in some places You can dive next to groups of sea lions and occasionally, with dolphins and penguins. This combination of offers makes these places very attractive for the recreational diving market but only if it is guaranteed that diving activities do not disturb habitats and populations of fish and invertebrates.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The system of guano islands, islets and capes, contains a rich marine-coastal biodiversity, which in addition to protecting large populations of guano birds, provides the best refuges for important populations of birds and mammals, many of them protected by the Peruvian government, according to its status as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable and near threatened species.
Given the presence of cold waters, in the Peruvian sea, due to the current of Humboldt, these become refuge for the anchoveta, Engraulis ringens, which allows that species to recover, being this, key of the trophic chain of the ecosystem of Peruvian outcrop. The maintenance of the sotcks would protect the predatory anchovy species, some of them of great commercial importance.
Like the anchoveta, birds and sea lions tend to move along the coast when events like El Niño occur. The fact that the guano set covers almost all along the coast, offers a relatively protected these species network of places of refuge during their movements due to this phenomenon.
The system of guano islands, islets and capes has a great historical value because of the important role they played in the pre-Inca, Inca and last century. Although the large deposits of guano no longer exist, you can still see all the facilities of the Guano Managing Company and serve as an example of one of the few cases in the world of successful management of a natural resource.
Criterion (x): The system of guano islands, islets and capes is important for its biological, ecological and environmental, scientific and cultural, historical and genetic values, which make these places representative for conservation and useful for future generations.
The system of guano islands, islets and capes is very important because it provides refuge not only to almost all the populations of the three species of guano birds, all of them in a vulnerable situation; it also gives refuge to almost 72% of the Peruvian population of fur seals (species in danger of extinction, CITES II), 84.4% of the chusco (vulnerable species), 60% of the Humboldt penguin (endangered species, CITES I ), the most important colony of Potoyunco and important reproductive populations of other species of seabirds (Duffy et al., 1984).
Due to the processes of global warming El Niño events are more frequent and intense, many of these species would be in serious risk of disappearing from the Peruvian coast if it does not do everything possible to minimize disturbances during the breeding period, to recover as much as possible during the cold periods between occurrences of El Niño. The guano group contributes to the recovery of these populations by providing sites relatively free of disturbances along the coast.
Given the close correlation between the location of islands, islets and guano points with areas of intense outcrop and greater persistence of cold water during El Niño, anchovetas tend to flee from the warm conditions in the ecosystem and seek refuge in the zones relatively cooler, generally in upwelling areas where the water persists several degrees colder than in the rest of the ecosystem. The anchoveta being the key species of the trophic chain of the Peruvian outcrop ecosystem.
Also, birds and sea lions tend to move when El Niño events occur on our coast, due to warming of cold-water currents.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The system of guano islands, islets and capes, distributed along the length of the Peruvian coast, is quite extensive, with an approximate distance of 2138 km, in these spaces there is a great diversity of species of fauna and fish that are unique, because to the cold currents of Humboldt and the Niño del Niño and is also the refuge not only of the guano birds, but many of them are in a vulnerable situation and the Humboldt penguin (an endangered species, CITES I), is also the most important colony of potoyunco, Pelecanoides garnotii, and other breeding populations of other species of seabirds, on the other hand, guano islands, islets and capes is a refuge for almost 72% of the population of fur seal Arctocephalus australis (endangered species) of extinction, CITES II) and 84.4% of the wild wolf Otaria flavescens (vulnerable species).
It is necessary to indicate that the system of guano islands, islets and capes are legally constituted, and are found in three protected natural areas:
- National Reserve of Paracas, established by Supreme Decree Nº: 1281-1975-AG, on September 25th, 1975.
- National Reserve System of Guano Islands, Islets and Points, established by Supreme Decree No. 024-2009-MINAM on December 31th, 2009.
- San Fernando National Reserve, established by Supreme Decree No. 017-2011-MINAM, from July 9th, 2011.
In addition, the three reserves have planning documents for their management, as well as site plans for the development of tourism
- Master Plan of the Paracas National Reserve, approved by Presidential Resolution No. 020-2016-SERNANP, January 19th, 2016.
- Master Plan of the Guano Islands, Islets and Capes System National Reserve, approved by Presidential Resolution No. 048-2016-SERNANP, February 29th, 2016.
- Master Plan of San Fernando National Reserve, approved by Presidential Resolution No. 326-2014-SERNANP, December 31th, 2014.
- Plan of site of San Fernando National Reserve as a planning tourism document, 2016-2020, approved by Resolution No. 06-2016-Jefatural SERNANP-RNSF, June, 2016.
For the management of the Reserves, there is a management committee, in which a group of actors from both public and private entities (companies, communities, organized groups such as fishermen, NGOs, etc.) participate and decide. ensure the management and protection of the good, therefore its integrity, which is detailed below:
Management Committee of the National Reserve of Paracas, approved by Directorial Resolution No. 077-2015-SERNANP-DGANP, November 19th, 2015.
Committee of Management of the Guano Islands, Islets and Capes System National Reserve, approved by Directorial Resolution No. 036-2018-SERNANP-DGANP, April 20th, 2018.
Management Committee of the San Fernando National Reserve, approved by Directorial Resolution No. 07-2019-SERNANP-DGANP, February 4th, 2019.
Comparison with other similar properties
The Islands of Lord Howe, located in Australia, is a remarkable example of the generation of a set of isolated oceanic islands by the unleashing of a submarine volcanic activity to more than 2000 meters deep. The islands are home to numerous endemic species - especially birds - and their topography is spectacular.
The National Park of Lake Malawi, located in South Africa, has a landscape with a backdrop of mountains, this park covers the southern end of the vast Lake Malawi, which houses in its clear and deep waters hundreds of species of fish, almost all endemic, whose interest for the theory of evolution is comparable with the Pinzon island of Galapagos.
The Galapagos Island is located 1000 km from the South American continent, this archipelago is made up of thirteen large islands with an area greater than 10 km2, six medium islands with an area of 1km2 to 10 km2, and another 215 small-sized islands.
The constant seismic activity and extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life, such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finches that inspired the theory of evolution Charles Darwin by natural selection after his visit in 1835.
The Guano Islands, Islets and Capes System, highlights aspects other than natural goods in comparison, since it is of great importance, as there is a rich and abundant biological diversity and are surrounded by the cold water currents of Humboldt and the winds trade winds of the SE, from Chile to Peru, that allow the outcrop and high primary productivity, originating a great biomass of Engraulis ringens, Sardinops sagax sagax, basic food for the Phalacrocorax bougainvillii, Sula variegata, Pelecanus thagus, Phalocrocorax gaimardi, Phalocrocorax olivaceus, They are in the islands and produce guano or organic fertilizer of economic importance.
It should be noted that the property has an area of more than 476 284.69 ha, where there are large colonies of sea birds and wolves, which in some cases exceed 100 million guano birds in a time of five years._________________________