Kachin national park in bid for UNESCO World Heritage status
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.