July 29, 2010

Galapagos Islands Taken Off World Heritage List

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee said Wednesday that it removed Ecuador's Galapagos Islands from its list of endangered sites because of Quito's protective efforts in the Pacific archipelago.

As reported by the AFP news agency, the committee removed the islands from its endangered environments list "by a vote of 14 to five, with one abstention," said Brazil's Culture Ministry, who is presiding over this week's committee meeting in Brasilia.

"It's important to recognize the Ecuadoran government's effort in protecting and preserving this heritage site," Brazilian Heritage Institute president Luiz Fernando de Almeida said in a statement.

Brazil requested that the islands be removed from the endangered list.

The Galapagos are located 620 miles west of Ecuador's coast and contains 13 main islands and 17 islets.  The islands have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978 because of its rich plant and animal life both on land and in the surrounding area.

The organization declared the island chain's environment endangered in 2007 because of the increased amount of tourism and the introduction of invasive species.

About 10,000 people live on the volcanic archipelago, which rose from the Pacific seabed 10 million years ago and became famous when Darwin visited to conduct research in 1835.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's List of World Heritage in Danger includes 31 cultural or natural sites worldwide that are considered to be at imminent risk of degradation or destruction.

The 34th annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee took place this year in the Brazilian capital from July 25 to August 3.


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