Location and Values: The Cocos Island National Park is located in the tropical eastern Pacific, about 500 km from Costa Rica’s mainland. The island itself is relatively small, covering just 24 km2, but it supports the only tropical forest ecosystem on an oceanic island in the region and covers a range of altitude from sea level to 634 m asl. The isolation of this tropical rainforest has resulted in the evolution of significant numbers of unique plants (70 endemic species) and a few animals (three endemic land-birds and two reptiles), providing evidence of ongoing evolutionary processes. The marine component of the site is much more extensive than the island itself, covering 1,997 km2 of diverse marine ecosystems, ranging from coral reefs to deep ocean. It is especially important for the conservation of large pelagic marine species such as sharks, rays, tuna and dolphins, many of which use the Tropical Eastern Pacific Marine Corridor to migrate between the world heritage sites of Cocos Island, Coiba Island and the Galapagos Islands.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of the Cocos Island National Park is of ‘significant concern’. The IUCN report notes that the main threats to the island’s terrestrial habitats come from introduced alien species, while marine ecosystems are being degraded by illegal fishing. In addition, the coral reefs are impacted by climate change (periodic elevations in temperature and acidification of water) as well as damage inflicted by divers and boat anchors. IUCN recognizes that management capacity to address these threats has been strengthened in recent years, but more needs to be done.
UNESCO Official Website
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description