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Japan will soon get a fifth Natural World Heritage Site as the country’s southern islands of Amami Oshima, Iriomote, and Tokunoshima have been recommended to be registered as natural assets by the UNESCO advisory panel.
The UNESCO advisory panel has also recommended the registration of Yanbaru Region in the north of Okinawa Island on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Japan's Environment Ministry has said that these recommendations were made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is likely to formalise the registration through an online meeting to be held from July 16 to 31.
The areas under consideration straddle 43,000 hectares and are found in the subtropical Nansei archipelago that runs between Kyushu and Taiwan and are part of Okinawa and Kagoshima prefectures.
For millions of years, the southwestern archipelago has been separated from the continent and other landmasses and therefore harbour a substantial number of endemic and rare flora and fauna, including the Iriomote leopard cat.
The UNESCO advisory body assessed that the chain of islands in southwestern Japan with dense subtropical forests are crucial for the preservation of biodiversity and sought conservative measures.
The islands are home to about 100 animal species on the IUCN's Red List, including the Okinawa rail, a flightless rail that is endemic to the Yambaru region in the northern Okinawa Island. And the Amami rabbit, who are living fossils because they retain primitive characteristics of ancient rabbits that lived approximately 1 million years ago.
To help preserve this rather unique habitat and it's inhabitants, UNESCO aims on preventing traffic accidents involving animals and capping the number of tourists on Iriomote Island.
"We will engage in the development of a sustainable region that is worthy of world natural heritage so that we can leave this precious natural environment to our descendants 100 and 1,000 years from now," Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki said in a statement.
There are currently 23 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Japan including cultural properties and the southwestern Japan islands will become the 24th in the country.
The southwestern parts of Japan have the most enchanting forests, beaches and wildlife hidden deep inside these Islands, although traveling to these islands won’t be easy anytime soon due to the travel restrictions. Thankfully, Google has added a virtual tour app where you can visit all UNESCO World Heritage sites around the globe sitting on your couch.
The new feature in the Arts & Culture app will enable you to visit the destination you planned to visit with your family and friends for your summer vacation. You can access Google’s UNESCO hub page the Arts & Culture app or desktop site.
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