DU Wiki > Ă„mnen - Subjects > Tourism studies > KG3012 > Seminar 1 Cultural and natural World Heritage sites > Ecuador > Galapagos Islands
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The Galapagos Islands are located about 1000 km form the coast of Ecuador. The area consist of 127 islands, islets and rocks of which 19 are large and only 4 of the 19 are inhabited. The islands and the surrounding marine area is also called ‘a unique living museum and showcase of evolution’ (UNESCO, 2014). 95% of the total emerged surface is declared as national parks since 1959 and consists of 133,000 km2 which makes this area the largest marine reserve in the world (GalapagosIslands, 2014).
The Galapagos Islands are part of the world heritage list sins 1978 for multiple reasons. UNESCO (2014) states that no other site in the world can offer the experience of diving with such a diverse marine life. The animals are so familiar with human beings that they accompany the divers. Showing that this unique display of divers underwater wildlife and biodiversity cannot be found elsewhere in the world (UNESCO, 2014; UNEP, 2011; GalapagosIslands, 2014). Furthermore, a unique melting pot of three currents (the Nazca, Cocos and Pacific) meet at the basis of the ocean located in the area. Besides, the islands are in comparison with other oceanic archipelagos, a rather young. The largest and youngest islands, Española and San Christóbal, somewhere between 3 and 5 million years old. The Galapagos Islands also give an unique example of how ecological, evolutionary and biogeographic process influence the flora and fauna. This is shown on the whole island with many different types of flora species such as mangroves, different types of cactuses and sesuvium. Moreover, the fauna species on and around the islands such as the land and marine iguana, penguins, the giant tortoises and the blue footed boobies are unique. These unusual animals inspire Darwin’s theory of evolution after his visit in 1835 (UNEP, 2011).
In 2007 the Galapagos Islands were listed on the World Heritage List of danger due to the increase of tourism and the immigration to the islands which has threatened many species. From this moment on, many actions were undertaken by the Ecuadorian president in order to dismiss the Galapagos from the list of danger. He restricted the immigration to the islands, tightening the travel regulations and requiring visas for the Ecuadorians visiting the islands. To be able to control the tourist activity, visitors must purchase a transit control card and a high entrance fee. In 2012 the work was paid off, and the Galapagos Islands were removed from the list of danger. However the statistics show that number of vegetation and animals is increasing, there are still issues that need to be taken into consideration (UNESCO, 2014).
From the park’s establishment there has been an economic conflict between tourism companies, fishing industry and conservationists that made the governance of the area challenging. Many illegal fisherman’s profit right from the sea without any control. Besides that, there is still a lack of regulation at the islands’ entrée points, as visitors may come in contact with alien species. These are examples of problems that should be managed in the short future (UNEP, 2011).
GalapagosIslands (2014) About Galapagos; Galapagos Conservation. [Online] Available from: http://www.galapagosislands.com/gala...galapagos.html. [Accessed on 16/11/2014]
UNEP (2011). United Nations Environment Programme; World Conservation Monitoring Centre. World Heritage Sites. Google Scholar.
UNESCO (2014). World Heritage Center. The list; Galapagos Islands [Online] Available from: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1. [Accessed 13/11/2014]
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