National Park to be extended to the whole of Iriomote to protect rare species

February 24, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Central Environment Council approved an area expansion plan on February 23 for the Iriomote Ishigaki National Park to cover the whole area of Iriomote Island (29,000ha) in Yaeyama. The official announcement of the plan will be made in the related offices by the end of March. Iriomote Island is included in the area of Amami and Ryukyu that the government aims to designate as World Natural Heritage in 2018. By this expansion of the national park, the Ministry of Environment intends to enhance nature conservation.

The Ministry of Environment explains the reason for the expansion as “concern with overuse” due to an increase of tourists to the area. The ministry aims to protect the habitat of the crested serpent eagle and Iriomote wild cat by the expansion of the protection area. The current area for the Ishigaki National Park is 91,676ha (land area 21,958ha and ocean area 69,718ha), which will be expanded to 122,151ha (land area 40,654ha and ocean area 81,497ha).

(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma) 

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