Palau’s Rock Islands Southern Lagoon has been inscribed onto the World Heritage list of (UNESCO) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Listed as a mixed site (for both cultural and natural properties), Rock Islands Southern Lagoon covers 100,200-hectare and numbers 445 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin. Many of them display unique mushroom-like shapes in turquoise lagoons surrounded by coral reefs. The aesthetic beauty of the site is heightened by a complex reef system featuring over 385 coral species and different types of habitat. They sustain a large diversity of plants, birds and marine life including dugong and at least 13 shark species. The site harbors the highest concentration of marine lakes anywhere, isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers. They are among the islands’ distinctive features and sustain high endemism of populations which continue to yield new species discoveries.
The well-known biodiversity of the Republic of Palau lies in the marine and terrestrial environment of the Rock Islands where important habitats threatened and endangered species are situated. The significant aesthetic and culture values of the landscape of the Southern Lagoon are integral to the identity of the State and our island nation. Becoming a world heritage site will help us better adapt management to address complex challenges and issues that are constantly changing.
According to Ilebrang U. Olkeriil, Coastal Management Officer/Campaign Manager of the Koror State Government’s Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement, “On behalf of Koror State Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement, we thank all those who worked hard and for the in-kind contribution to make our dream of international recognition a reality.”