Kachin na­tional park in bid for UNESCO World Her­itage sta­tus

The Myanmar Times - - News - KYI KYI SWAY news­room@mm­times.com

HKAKABO Razi Na­tional Park in north­ern Kachin State may soon be in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised as a her­itage land­mark, if the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion is suc­cess­ful in its bid to have it placed on UNESCO’s Nat­u­ral World Her­itage list.

Steps are un­der way to have the wilder­ness area, lo­cated in Nawng­mun town­ship, in­cluded on the UNESCO list by 2018.

“We are un­der­tak­ing each of the nec­es­sary pro­cesses, step by step, to make sure our nom­i­na­tion dossier is sub­mit­ted in 2017,” said U Aung Mya, di­rec­tor of the min­istry’s Forestry Depart­ment in Kachin State.

“If we are suc­cess­ful in putting this area on the Nat­u­ral World Her­itage list, we hope it will stim­u­late the re­gion’s econ­omy with­out en­dan­ger­ing the nat­u­ral land­scape,” he added.

Land­marks placed on UNESCO’s World Her­itage list are re­garded by the or­gan­i­sa­tion as be­ing im­por­tant to the col­lec­tive in­ter­ests of hu­man­ity and are there­fore pro­tected by a range of in­ter­na­tional treaties.

The Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion has been col­lab­o­rat­ing with both UNESCO and the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety in its ef­forts to have Hkakabo Razi’s nearly 10,000 square kilo­me­tres (3860 square miles) of moun­tain­ous for­est ter­rain in­cluded on the list.

The nom­i­na­tion dossier will refer to the “Hkakabo Razi land­scape”, an area made up of the Hkakabo Razi Na­tional Park it­self as well as land far­ther to the south of the park and the ad­ja­cent Hponkan­razi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Work on the bid has been un­der way since 2015 and of­fi­cials hope to com­plete the pro­posal by Septem­ber of next year.

U Ayaw Zaw, di­rec­tor of the min­istry’s En­vi­ron­ment and Forestry Depart­ment, out­lined a num­ber of steps that will be un­der­taken to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of the nom­i­na­tion pro­posal.

“The ex­panded area south of the Hkakabo Razi Na­tional Park will be made a con­ser­va­tion area,” he said. “Bio­di­ver­sity sur­veys and map­ping of the land­scape will also be com­pleted along with other nec­es­sary tasks re­quired by UNESCO’s cri­te­ria for in­clu­sion.”

Once the dossier is com­pleted, it will be sent to the Union and re­gional gov­ern­ments for ap­proval, af­ter which it will be sent to UNESCO.

The de­ci­sion to seek UNESCO recog­ni­tion for the area has been wel­comed by en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion­ists in Myan­mar.

“The Hkakabo Razi land­scape is not only one of the largest forested ar­eas in the coun­try, but it is also rich in bio­di­ver­sity wait­ing to be stud­ied. As en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, we wel­come the at­tempt to place the area on the nat­u­ral her­itage list and urge the govern­ment to act quickly and ef­fec­tively,” said Saw Mon Theint, an en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion con­sul­tant.

Saw Mon Theint also ad­vo­cated for public ed­u­ca­tion on en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion and her­itage.

“The lo­cal peo­ple should be made aware that their re­gion is be­ing con­sid­ered for World Her­itage sta­tus. If they do not un­der­stand the value and sig­nif­i­cance of this, we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to ed­u­cate them,” she said.

The Hkakabo Razi land­scape is close to Myan­mar’s north­ern­most bor­der and is home to the coun­try’s high­est peak, Mount Hkakabo Razi.

The Pyu an­cient ci­ties, lo­cated in the Aye­yarwady River basin, are cur­rently the only area in the coun­try that has sat­is­fied UNESCO’s “out­stand­ing univer­sal value” cri­te­rion for in­clu­sion on its World Her­itage list.

A sim­i­lar World Her­itage bid is on­go­ing for the an­cient Bud­dhist king­dom of Ba­gan.

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