Green List

Gorgona National Natural Park
Parque Nacional Natural (PNN) Gorgona


First Listed



Pilot Site

This site is undergoing the renewal of its IUCN Green List Certification

Why is it Green Listed?

Gorgona National Natural Park is a small paradise of diversity that jumps to view when approached from deep sea as exuberant tropical forests descend from cloudy peaks into the intense blue of the Pacific Ocean’s mysterious water. The Parks is made up of two islands, Gorgona and Gorgonilla, which received their name from Francisco Pizarro in 1527.

It also has signs of a Pre-Columbian settlement that existed around the 13th century BC, which is fundamental to the region’s ethno history. Gorgona was a maximum-security prison during 25 years until 1984, when scientists, environmentalists and human rights defenders led a campaign to close the prison. The Park was thus created and it included a great portion of marine area around it. It has been called ‘Science Island’ because of the great amount of information, which it has supplied to researchers to help understand its ecosystems and for the effective administration of the protected area.

Site Attributes



National Natural Park

IUCN Category

Year Established

Marine Protected Area
Coastal: Mix of Marine and Terrestrial

Marine Area

Governance Type
Federal or national ministry or agency

Site Agency
Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia

Site Manager
Maria Ximena Zorrilla

EAGL Chair
Sandra Valenzuela

ASI Reviewer
Carlos Escobar

Site Summary

The National Natural Park (PNN) Gorgona is one of the 61 National protected areas administered by National Natural Parks of Colombia. It was created through the Agreement of INDERENA No. 062 of November 25, 1983 and approved by Executive Resolution No. 141 of July 19, 1984 of the Ministry of Agriculture, “with the aim of conserving flora, fauna, beauties natural scenarios, geomorphological complexes, historical or cultural manifestations, for scientific, educational, recreational or aesthetic purposes “(Resolution No. 141, 1983), particularly the coral reefs, the tropical humid forest and its diversity. Its initial extension was of 49,200 Ha. Although later it was realinderado by means of the Resolution No. 1265 of October 25, 1995 of the Ministry of Environment, and its total extension happened to be 61,687.5 Ha.

This protected area includes insular territory and marine area, and is located in the Pacific Ocean in southwestern Colombia in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, 35 km from the continent. It is a continental island with a strategic geographical location, with maximum depths of 85 m; to the west of the island the abyssal depths can reach more than 1000 meters (UAESPNN, 2005). Two of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the tropics are present in the area, such as: coral reefs and the tropical rain forest. It also presents a high variety of habitats in marine environments, such as rocky, sandy and deep gradient zones and in terrestrial environments, forested areas, cliffs, beaches and emerging rocks, allowing the confluence of high biological diversity in an area relatively small island-marine (UAESPNN, 2005). The good state of conservation of the Park allows the maintenance of the ecological processes of its ecosystems, it provides diverse habitats for the resident species and for those that use it in a seasonal way; especially provides critical habitats for endangered and / or endemic species. For this reason, the island from the biogeographical and ecological point of view constitutes an important area for conservation, since it makes possible the presence of organisms of both coastal and oceanic and continental habits (UAESPNN, 2005).

Additionally, the Park constitutes a place with unique geological characteristics. Approximately 90% of the Island is made up of mafic and ultramafic volcanic rocks such as peridotites, gabros, basalts, komatiitas, picritas and tufas. The rest of the island is covered with tertiary and quaternary sediments (Echeverría, 1980); being one of the few places in the world where the most recent occurrence of ultramafic Komatiitica lava flows of Cretaceous age is known, associated with basalts of an entire igneous province comprising the Caribbean region and the north-western margin of South America (Dietrich et al., 1981; Dupre and Echeverría, 1984 Serrano et al., 2011).

This protected area has a high historical-cultural value where the settlement of a pre-Columbian culture stands out in the 13th century BC. of high importance for the ethnohistoric understanding of the region, and the establishment of a maximum security prison in the decade of the 60s that is part of Colombian history and had considerable effects on the ecological stability of the island. Therefore, Gorgona is an ideal site for research, ecotourism and environmental education activities. Additionally, the area plays an important role in regional economic dynamics by contributing to the sustainability of fisheries resources, as it provides breeding, feeding, and protection of commercial fish species.

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