Located off the southern coast of Kagoshima Prefecture,
the subtropical Yakushima Island is famous for its 1,000-
year-old trees and high mountains. It was listed on the
World Heritage List in 1993, making it one of the first
properties of Japan to be designated a UNESCO site.
The designated property encompasses the center of the
island, including its highest peaks. Additionally, it is a
national park of Japan.
“Yakusugi” is the name given to the Japanese cedars, “sugi”, which are at least over a thousand years old. The oldest cedar tree on the island is estimated to be over 7,000 years old. In addition to having the oldest trees in Japan, the island is also known for its unique ecosystem and rich biodiversity. The area is home to 1,900 species of flora, 16 different species of mammals, and 150 bird species. It also holds remnants of an ancient warm- temperate forest, which is distinct to this region.
Interestingly, Yakushima has mountains reaching as high as 2,000 m, another rare characteristic for its region. The island’s high summits, primeval warm-temperate forests, and overall ecosystem make the property highly significant. It is valuable for scientific studies in evolutionary biology, biogeography, vegetation succession, and more. In short, Yakushima’s Japanese cedar dominant landscape and primeval forests are not only biologically significant but aesthetically as well.