Why is the Galapagos a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

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Why is the Galapagos a UNESCO World Heritage Site? In brief: because it represents something unique and because the Galapagos ignite within us the desire to protect. The archipelago serves for many (if not all that have experienced it) as a source of both pride and responsibility. From the citizens of Ecuador to visitors from around the world that come to visit the archipelago, each person that has visited the islands comes away with an overwhelming sense of “duty” to respect and protect this irreplaceable heritage of the entire human race. In this blog we invite you to find out about how the Galapagos landed its place as the second ever World Heritage Site in the world (right after the magnificent city of Quito)!

Why is the Galapagos a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Criteria, criteria, criteria…

First things first when it comes to qualifying as a World Heritage Site: an area or location must itself be deemed to have “Outstanding Universal Value,” have international significance and, perhaps most importantly, must “be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.” In addition to this (in the case of natural heritage), the contender must also meet the following criteria:

Criteria VII: “To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.”

why is the galapagos a UNESCO world heritage site?

Champion Islet, Floreana Island

Criteria VIII: “To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.”

geological galapagos

Lava cactus on lava rock over on Fernandina Island

Criteria IX: “To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.

sea turtle galapagos

Criteria X: “To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

galapagos giant tortoise

Once the Heritage Site checks off each of these criteria, it is inscribed in the World Heritage List. Such an honor and title also entails that the State that the site belongs to have an “enduring obligation” to guarantee the conservation, management and monitoring of the Heritage Site. Why is the Galapagos a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Because of all this and more!

Having such a prestigious UNESCO title means that the protection of this one-of-a-kind place is of the utmost importance. Note: UNESCO assesses World Heritage Sites every six years to check on the state of the site as well as the measures that have been implemented to help protect and conserve the site.

Historical Fact: The Galapagos Islands were declared a Natural Heritage Site for Humanity in 1978. Over two decades later, UNESCO extended this designation to include the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

The Galapagos National Park reinforces its conservation efforts (with respect to its UNESCO title) by keeping every visitor in close contact with naturalist guides that have been licensed by the Galapagos National Park Service, these of which help to keep guests continuously informed about the fragile and delicate nature of the archipelago. Upon arrival, visitors receive a welcome package that includes information on the uniqueness and just how special park is itself, and why it’s the responsibility of all of us to keep it the way it is. Its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is also used to help justify the National Park fee that visitors must pay upon visiting the fragile environment of the Galapagos Island.

Be sure to come and explore the Galapagos Islands aboard Yacht Isabela II today!