World Natural Heritage Site evaluations in Okinawa

World Natural Heritage Site evaluations in Okinawa

IUCN field evaluators surveying the northern area of mainland Okinawa on October. 7, around 8:35 a.m. The site is nominated for the UNESCO World Natural Heritage status.

October 7, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the “northern part of Okinawa island” and Iriomote Island was nominated by the Japanese government for the UNESCO World Natural Heritage status.

Experts from UNESCO’s advisory body, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) began field evaluations in the nominated sites.

The IUCN inspection conducted on October. 7 was open to the press.

The IUCN mission schedule is as follows: Yanbaru (the “northern part of Okinawan Island”), October. 5-7; Amami-Oshima Island and Tokushima Island, October. 8-10; and Iriomote Island, October. 11-12.

The IUCN is expected to make its recommendations to the World Heritage Committee during the summer of 2020, based on its field reports and assessments of other background materials.

IUCN evaluators previously inspected the four sites in 2017, but due to issues pertaining to the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area adjacent to Yanbaru, the IUCN recommended the World Heritage Committee to defer decisions, and requested fundamental revisions be made to the nomination dossier.

The Japanese government submitted a revised nomination since, making this field evaluation its second time.

On October. 7, IUCN experts Wendy Ann Strahm and Ulrika Åberg surveyed the Yanbaru forest in Kunigami-son from atop the Nagao bridge, which the press was allowed to observe.

Employees of the Environment of Ministry and experts from the World Natural Heritage Proposed Site Scientific Committee offered details of the forest ecosystem to the two evaluators.

The Okinawa Rail (Gallirallus okinawae) and the Okinawa Woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii), both of which are designated national natural treasures, could be heard.

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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