Last Monday, UNESCO added to its natural World Heritage Sites a chain of islands renowned for their dense subtropical forests. These islands are Amami-Oshima, Tokunoshima, Iriomote, and the northern part of Okinawa Island, all in the southwestern of Japan.
The new addition to UNESCO’s prestigious list, Japan’s fifth natural heritage site, includes 43,000 hectares of diverse ecosystems, home to rare animals and birds such as the Amami rabbit, the Iriomote cat, and the Okinawa rail. Flora and fauna on these islands evolved during their formation process, and many are rare species found only in this area.
Japan has taken several steps to ensure the preservation of this natural habitat and prevent the arrival of invasive species. Moreover, there are some local initiatives designed to preserve and manage the natural environment for posterity.
In addition, 17 archeological sites in northern Japan have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Evidence of the Jomon culture is spread throughout the southern island of Hokkaido and the northern Tohoku region. The recent announcement brings the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan to an impressive total of 25.