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Posted on on July 30th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


Ecuador’s headway in combating threats posed by invasive species, unbridled tourism and over-fishing has allowed the Galapagos Islands to be removed from the list of World Heritage sites considered to be in danger by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Galapagos, comprising 19 islands and a marine reserve, are situated some 1,000 kilometres from the South American continent. Deemed a World Heritage site in 1978, they have been described as a unique “living museum and showcase of evolution.”

Situated where three ocean currents meet, the Galapagos were formed by seismic and volcanic activity.

Along with the islands’ extreme isolation, these processes led to the development of unusual animal life, such as the land iguana and the giant tortoise, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection after his visit to the Galapagos in 1835.

They were put on the list of sites in danger in 2007, and the World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, welcomed the Ecuadorian Government’s ongoing efforts to bolster conservation measures, especially in the use of biosecurity measures to prevent foreign plant and animal species from reaching the islands through the use of sniffer dogs and other means.

The Committee also lauded the country’s moves to limit the number of tourists and arrivals of ships and aircraft, as well as to control fishing.

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