World Heritage Site, Marine Reserve & Home (1932-2001) | Galapagos Unbound

Becoming the Galápagos of Today

Ecuador first enacted laws protecting the Galápagos Islands in 1932. By 1936, 97% of the islands were designated as a national park.

By 1959, the Charles Darwin Foundation began to work on its research station in the Galápagos Islands; this dream became a reality in 1964 with the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz.

In 1978, UNESCO declared the Galápagos Islands as a World Heritage Site—one of the first twelves. In 1984, UNESCO extended its protections by declaring the Galápagos Islands a Biosphere Reserve.

The ecological protections keep on coming. Ecuador’s president created the Galápagos Marine Reserve in 1986—which was just recently expanded in 2016. In 2001, UNESCO once again expanded the Galápagos Islands’ World Heritage Status to incorporate the Galápagos Marine Reserve.

With all of the Galápagos Island’s conservation and research efforts, it’s important to recognize the over 30,000 people who live within the Galápagos Islands and make their living from the Galápagos’ thriving ecotourism-based economy as well as ranching, agriculture, and fishing. Even with the first settlers’ rocky, enigmatic, and repeated starts inhabiting the Galápagos Islands, it’s easy to see why scientists, adventurers, and nature-lovers continually find themselves drawn to Galápagos shores.