Islands removed from world heritage ‘red list’ despite continued threats from fishing, tourism and invasive species
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Although tourism, invasive species and over-fishing are still threats to the Galapagos Islands, the World Heritage Committee decided to remove islands from the list of endangered sites, saying that Ecuador has made progress in addressing the management challenges.
The committee is meeting this week in Brasilia to consider adding new sites to the list and reviewing threats to existing world heritage sites. World Heritage designation recognizes outstanding environmental and cultural features that have global value. Mesa Verde National Park is the only global heritage site in Colorado. Others in the U.S. include Yellowstone and Yosemite.
This year’s nominations for natural sites include the Putorana Plateau, Russian Federation, The Pitons, Cirques and Remparts of La Réunion, France and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawai’i as well as an extension into Italy of Monte San Giorgio, Switzerland. George Washington’s Mt. Vernon estate in Virginia is under consideration as a cultural site.
The Galapagos Islands, first made famous by the ground-breaking evolutionary research of Charles Darwin, are a living museum and showcase of evolution. The islands were put on the endangered list in 2007.
The decision was not made without debate. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommended keeping the islands on the red list because of the ongoing threats.
“The removal of this unique site of global importance to humanity is somewhat premature,” says IUCN Director General, Julia Marton-Lefevre. “IUCN stands ready to continue its work with the Ecuadorian government to fully implement the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee.”
But the World Heritage Committee found that significant progress had been made by Ecuador in addressing these problems.
“Threats from tourism, invasive species and overfishing are still factors and the situation in the Galapagos remains critical,” adds Badman. “We will need continued strong commitment from the Ecuadorian government over the coming years to resolve these issues.”
Look for more upcoming coverage of this year’s’ world heritage committee meeting at Summit Voice.