UNESCO has added part of Kuchinoerabu Island in Kagoshima Prefecture to its list of biosphere reserves, known as UNESCO Eco Parks, the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO said Sunday.
At a meeting of relevant executives in Peru, the U.N. body approved expansion of three Japanese regions with the biosphere reserve status, including the island of Yakushima in Kagoshima Prefecture.
The Yakushima region now includes part of Kuchinoerabu Island, which is only 12 km (7.5 miles) from Yakushima.
Also expanded were the Hakusan mountain region that spans central prefectures including Toyama and Gifu, and the Odaigahara-Omine mountain region straddling the prefectures of Nara and Mie, to which the valley of Osugidani in Mie Prefecture was added.
All three sites were registered as UNESCO Eco Parks in 1980. The Japanese commission sought expansion of the regions after UNESCO changed the designation rules.
The biosphere reserve program is aimed at harmonizing the preservation of nature with the sustainable use of it, such as for forestry, ecotourism and academic research, while the World Natural Heritage program focuses on full preservation of the designated areas.
Japan has four other eco parks, including the Minami-Alps mountain region in and around Nagano Prefecture and the Tadami mountain region in Fukushima Prefecture.