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Ogasawara Islands - UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Ogasawara Islands - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ogasawara Islands - UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Ogasawara Islands refer to the 30 clustered islands of various size scattered over the North-Western Pacific Ocean. Located along the Izu-Ogasawara Arc Trench System, they make up three main groups of islands. The Ogasawara Archipelago consists of Mukojima, Chichijima. and Hahajima islands. The designated property also includes three other individual islands, Nishinoshima, Minamiwoto, and Kita-iwoto. Together, the area forms a part of Ogasawara National Park. Only two of these islands are inhabited, Chichijima and Hahajima. The property was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011.

Formed by the protrusions of an ancient underwater volcano, the island is mainly made of sheer cliffs and subtropical forests. There are over 440 species of native vascular plants with an exceptional endemic rate as high as 70%. Additionally, the islands are home to over 100 native snail species, of which 90% are endemic. Its ecosystem is outstanding for ongoing evolutionary processes, high levels of endemism, and speciation through adaptive radiation.

Thus, the islands are extremely valuable in terms of the scientific study of these processes. The different islands of the archipelago exemplify diverse ecological processes, including the evolution of the land snail fauna and its low extinction rates. Combining the central study of endemism, adaptive radiation, and evolution of marine species into terrestrial species, the Ogasawara Islands are the center of this valuable evidence. Protection over this significant, yet fragile island environment, is of critical importance for conservation of the Ogasawara Islands.