Nuchi du Takara (Life—including the life of nature—is the Greatest Treasure).
Yanbaru subtropical rainforest. (Photo: Yoshio Shimoji)
Yanbaru, the magnificent ecoregion of northern Okinawa—mountains, subtropical rainforest, rivers, wetlands, and Henoko's dugong and coral reef ecosystem—is Okinawa's most important natural heritage site. Henoko is one of the most biodiverse and beautiful coastal areas in all Japan and the Asia-Pacific. With the support of Japan's Environmental Ministry, Okinawa Prefecture nominated the ecoregion for official recognition on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2012.
The coral reef is the last fully intact coral reef in all of Okinawa and Japan. It is home to almost 400 types of healthy coral (including the rare, mysterious blue coral); over 1,000 species of marine life (including the beloved dugong, an indigenous sacred icon and natural monument); hawksbill, loggerhead, and green sea turtles; crustaceans; anemone; reef fish; and sea grass.
Henoko's magnificent dugong and coral reef habitat.
Sea Turtle and Okinawa Dugong, a sacred cultural icon and protected natural monument.
Photo courtesy: Takuma Higashionna
The international community, from marine scientists to environmentalists to indigenous cultural and historic preservation advocates, have supported locals and Okinawans for 20 years in efforts to protecting this invaluable world natural cultural heritage because the world recognizes its universal value and importance.