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Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, Northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island

Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, Northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island

Encompassing 42,698 hectares of subtropical rainforests on four islands on a chain located in the southwest of Japan, the serial site forms an arc on the boundary of the East China Sea and Philippine Sea whose highest point, Mount Yuwandake on Amami-Oshima Island, rises 694 metres above sea level. Entirely uninhabited by humans, the site has high biodiversity value with a very high percentage of endemic species, many of them globally threatened. The site is home to endemic plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, inland water fish and decapod crustaceans, including, for example, the endangered Amami Rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi) and the endangered Ryukyu Long-haired Rat (Diplothrix legata) that represent ancient lineages and have no living relatives anywhere in the world. Five mammal species, three bird species, and three amphibian species in the property have been identified globally as Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species. There are also a number of different endemic species confined to each respective island that are not found elsewhere in the property. 

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Île Amami-Oshima, île Tokunoshima, partie nord de l’île d’Okinawa et île d’Iriomote

Couvrant 42 698 ha de forêts pluviales subtropicales sur quatre îles d’un archipel situé au sud-ouest du Japon, ce site en série forme un arc à la limite entre la mer de Chine orientale et la mer des Philippines. Le mont Yuwandake, sur l’île Amami-Oshima, constitue son point culminant et s’élève à 694 m au-dessus du niveau de la mer. L’homme est totalement absent du site, lequel présente une grande valeur de biodiversité avec une proportion très élevée d’espèces endémiques, dont beaucoup sont menacées au niveau mondial. Parmi ces espèces endémiques, on trouve notamment des plantes, des mammifères, des oiseaux, des reptiles, des amphibiens, des poissons d’eaux douces et des crustacés décapodes et notamment, des espèces menacées comme le lapin des îles Amami (Pentalagus furnessi) et le rat à poils longs de Ryukyu (Diplothrix legata), qui représentent d’anciennes lignées et n’ont aucun parent vivant dans le monde. Cinq espèces de mammifères, trois espèces d’oiseaux et trois espèces d’amphibiens vivant au sein du bien ont été identifiées à l’échelon mondial comme des espèces EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered), des espèces en danger qui n’ont pas ou n’ont que peu de parents proches. Plusieurs espèces endémiques sont aussi inféodées à certaines îles du bien. 

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

جزيرة أمامي أوشيما، وجزيرة توكونوشيما، والجزء الشمالي من جزيرة أوكيناوا، وجزيرة إيريوموت

يغطي الموقع 42٫698 هكتاراً من الغابات المطيرة شبه الاستوائية الموزّعة في سلسلة مؤلفة من أربع جزر جنوب غرب اليابان، وتتجلى هذه السلسلة على هيئة قوس ممتد على الحدود بين بحر الصين الشرقي وبين بحر الفلبين. وجبل يوانداكي في جزيرة أمامي-أوشيما أعلى نقطة في الموقع، إذ يبلغ ارتفاعه 694 متراً فوق مستوى سطح البحر. وإن التواجد البشري منعدم تماماً في الموقع الذي يكتنز قيمة رفيعة للتنوع البيولوجي كونه يأوي نسبة كبيرة جداً من الأنواع المستوطنة، التي يُعتبر العديد منها مهدّداً على الصعيد العالمي. ويعتبر الموقع موطناً للنباتات المستوطنة والثدييات والطيور والزواحف والبرمائيات وأسماك المياه الداخلية والقشريات العشاريات الأرجل، التي نذكر منها على سبيل المثال أرنب أمامي المهدد بالانقراض (Pentalagus Furnessi) وفأر ريوكيو ذو الشعر الطويل (Diplothrix legata)، وهما من السلالات القديمة التي انقرض جميع أفرادها في العالم أجمع. ويعتبر الموقع موطناً لخمس فصائل من الثدييات وثلاث فصائل من الطيور وثلاث فصائل من البرمائيات التي اعتُبرت من الفصائل المميزة من ناحية تطورها والمعرضة في ذات الوقت لخطر الانقراض على الصعيد العالمي (EDGE). وتنفرد كل جزيرة أيضاً بطيف متنوع من الأنواع المستوطنة دون سواها من أجزاء الموقع.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

奄美大岛、德之岛、冲绳岛北部及西表岛

该遗产地位于日本西南部岛链的4个岛屿之上,含42698公顷亚热带雨林,在中国东海和菲律宾海的边界上形成一个弧形。最高峰是位于奄美大岛的“汤湾岳”,海拔694米。这些岛屿完全无人居住,具有很高的生物多样性价值,以及极高比例的全球濒危特有物种。这里生活着当地特有植物、哺乳动物、鸟类、爬行动物、两栖动物、内陆水域鱼类和甲壳类动物,例如代表着古老谱系且在世界任何地方都没有近亲物种的濒危奄美短耳兔和琉球长毛鼠。该遗产地的5种哺乳动物、3种鸟类和3种两栖动物已被确定为“具有独特进化意义的全球濒危动物”。此外,每个岛屿还有多种尚未在其它地区发现过的特有物种。

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Остров Амами-Осима, остров Токуносима, северная часть острова Окинава и остров Ириомотэ

Охватывая 42 698 га субтропических лесов на четырех островах в цепи, расположенных на юго-западе Японии, этот серийный объект образует дугу на границе Восточно-Китайского и Филиппинского морей. Самая высокая точка на территории объекта, гора Ювандакэ на острове Амами-Осима, возвышается на 694 м над уровнем моря. Незаселённый людьми, этот объект имеет высокую ценность с точки зрения биоразнообразия с очень высоким процентом эндемичных видов, многие из которых находятся в угрожаемом положении в глобальном масштабе. На территории объекта обитают эндемичные виды растений, млекопитающих, птиц, рептилий, земноводных, рыб внутренних водоемов и десятиногих ракообразных, включая, например, исчезающие виды лазающего зайца (или японского древесного зайца) (Pentalagus Furnessi) и длиннохвостую гигантскую крысу Рюкю (Diplothrix legata), которые представляют древние линии и не имеют живых родственников нигде в мире. Пять видов млекопитающих, три вида птиц и три вида земноводных были идентифицированы в глобальном масштабе как Эволюционно отличимые и находящиеся под угрозой исчезновения (EDGE) виды. Кроме того, на каждом отдельном острове обитает ряд различных эндемичных видов, которые не встречаются где-либо еще на территории объекта.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Isla de Amami-Oshima, isla de Tokunoshima, parte norte de la isla de Okinawa e Isla de Iriomote

Situado al sudeste del Japón, este sitio abarca 42.698 hectáreas de bosques pluviales subtropicales que cubren la superficie de una cadena arqueada de cuatro islas que delimitan las aguas del Mar de China Oriental y las del Mar de Filipinas. Su cumbre más alta es el Monte Yuwandake que se yergue a 694 metros sobre el nivel del mar en la isla de Amami- Oshima. Totalmente despoblado, el territorio del sitio tiene un gran valor para la diversidad biológica porque cuenta con un elevado porcentaje de especies vivas endémicas, muchas de las cuales están en peligro de extinción en el mundo. Entre ellas figuran plantas, mamíferos, aves, reptiles, anfibios, peces de agua dulce y crustáceos decápodos. Algunos animales de ascendencia arcaica y sin parentesco con otros especímenes vivos en el resto del mundo –como el conejo de Amami (Pentalagus furnessi) y la rata de pelo largo de Ryukyu (Diplothrix legata)– se hallan en peligro de extinción. Cinco tipos de mamíferos, tres de aves y otros tres de anfibios se han catalogado a nivel mundial como especies evolutivamente aisladas y en peligro de extinción global. También existen varias especies endémicas, confinadas en sus respectivos territorios isleños, que no se encuentran en las demás islas que componen el sitio.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

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Mangrove forest (Nakama River, Iriomote Is.) © MOEJ
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island is a terrestrial serial property covering 42,698 ha comprised of five component parts on four different islands (with Tokunoshima Island having two component parts). Influenced by the Kuroshio Current and a subtropical high-pressure system, the property has a warm and humid subtropical climate and is covered mainly with evergreen broadleaved subtropical rainforests.

The formation of the Okinawa Trough in late Miocene resulted in the separation of a chain from the Eurasian Continent, forming an archipelago of small islands. Terrestrial species became isolated on these small islands and evolved to form unique and rich biota. The islands included in the property support many examples of endemic species of terrestrial vertebrate groups and plants that were not able to cross between these islands or adjoining landmasses.

Thus, the property is of high global value for the protection of many endemic and globally threatened species, and contains the most important and significant remaining natural habitats for in-situ conservation of the unique and rich biodiversity of the central and southern part of the archipelago.

Criterion (x): The property contains natural habitats of outstanding importance for in-situ conservation of the unique and diverse biodiversity of the central and southern part of the archipelago in which the property is located. The five component parts constituting the property are located in one of the 200 ecoregions considered most crucial to the conservation of global biodiversity. The subtropical rainforests of the property are the largest remaining in the region and harbour a very rich flora and fauna, boasting at least 1,819 vascular plants, 21 terrestrial mammals, 394 birds, 267 inland water fish, 36 terrestrial reptiles and 21 amphibians. These include approximately 57% of the terrestrial vertebrates of the biodiversity hotspot of Japan, including 44% of species endemic to Japan as well as 36% of Japan’s globally threatened vertebrates.

Among species listed on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species are the Amami Rabbit, only found on Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima Islands and the only species in its genus, with no close relatives anywhere in the world, and the flightless Okinawa Rail, endemic to the Northern part of Okinawa Island. Spiny rats form an endemic genus consisting of three species endemic to each of the respective three islands, and the Iriomote Cat, which only inhabits Iriomote Island.

Speciation and endemism are high for many taxa. For example, 188 species of vascular plants and 1,607 insect species are endemic within the four islands of the property. Rates of endemism among terrestrial mammals (62%), terrestrial reptiles (64%), amphibians (86%), and inland water crabs (100%) are also high. Twenty species are identified as Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species, including the Okinawa Spiny Rat, Ryukyu Black-Breasted Leaf Turtle, and Kuroiwa’s Ground Gecko.

Integrity

The property is the best representation of the archipelago in which it is located and contains the richest biota in Japan, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. The boundaries of the five component parts have been carefully selected to ensure that the entire property is strictly protected and that they capture the key values and demonstrate a generally high degree of connectivity, wherever it is possible to achieve this.  It will be crucial to ensure that buffer zones are actively managed to support the attributes of the property’s OUV and that activities such as logging do not create adverse impacts.

The four islands that host the property consist of mountains and hills with intact and contiguous subtropical rainforests that secure particularly stable habitats for approximately 90% of native species, endemic species and globally threatened species of the central and southern part of the archipelago. There are important naturally functioning freshwater systems, but with some natural values that have been impacted by hard, engineered infrastructure and which could be restored to a more natural function.

The five component parts of the property have intact subtropical forests and other habitats, including many areas of substantial size. These are selected to include the most important current and potential distributional areas of endemic species and threatened species, and are key attributes expressing the Outstanding Universal Value of this property.

Protection and management requirements

The property is under the strictest protection in the Japanese system of nature conservation areas, and its component parts are designated as Special Protection Zones or Class I Special Zones managed by the Ministry of the Environment and/or Preservation Zones of Forest Ecosystem Reserves managed by the Forestry Agency. In addition, the property is designated as a National Wildlife Protection Area and Natural Monument Protection Area. The property thus receives adequate management resources and appropriate long-term protection. Some of the endemic species and/or threatened species of the property, such as the Amami Rabbit, three species of the Spiny Rat, Okinawa Rail and Iriomote Cat, have been designated and legally protected as National Endangered Species and/or National Natural Monuments.

The four islands of the property are inhabited, with residential areas and industrial activities located close to the habitats for endemic and threatened species. Buffer zones are included adjacent to the property, mainly in the Class II Special Zone of a national park and/or the Conservation and Utilization Zone of a Forest Ecosystem Reserve. In addition, Surrounding Conservation Areas encompassing the property and the buffer zones are designated under the Comprehensive Management Plan.

Administrations at all levels, i.e. the Ministry of the Environment, the Forestry Agency, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Kagoshima and Okinawa Prefectures, and 12 municipalities, have established a Regional Liaison Committee to facilitate and coordinate management of multilayered protected areas and the protection of designated species. They manage the property according to a Comprehensive Management Plan, which covers conservation measures not only in the property but also in the buffer zones and surrounding conservation areas.

Key threats to the property include potential impacts from tourism, posing significant threats to wildlife in some areas, including Iriomote Island. Further threats include impacts from invasive alien species such as the small Indian Mongoose and cats, wildlife roadkill and the illegal collection of wild rare and threatened species. In order to address these threats, the risks to the property are prevented or mitigated by various measures implemented through collaboration among related administrative agencies, private organizations and local communities. In recent years, the tourism industry has increased and sustainable levels of tourism need to be fully assessed and continuously monitored. Invasive alien species and roadkill, especially the potentially critical impact of traffic on endangered species including the Iriomote Cat, need to be kept at an absolute minimum and strictly monitored, and illegal collection of wild rare and threatened species prevented. There is the need to develop a comprehensive river restoration strategy in order to transition wherever possible from hard infrastructure to employ nature-based techniques and rehabilitation approaches.  Activities in the buffer zones, including very limited traditional timber extraction that takes place, also require continued vigilance and to be strictly limited and monitored.