Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning 2022

8 6 Four islands in southwestern Japan - Amami Oshima, Tokunoshima, Northern Okinawa Island and Iriomote Island - have been added to the Unesco World Natural Heirtage List, which recognises the value of some of the most exceptional natural sites around the world. Millions of years ago, these small islands were separated from the Eurasian continent, leaving the species living on the islands completely isolated from the wider world. Over time, this isolation has led to the development of a wholly independent ecosystem. Rare species that are entirely unique to the islands, such as the Iriomote Leopard Cat and Okinawa Rail, have marked them out as possessing “outstanding universal value in the unique topographical and geological features, ecosystems, and natural habitats of endangered flora and fauna”, qualifying them for recognition in the Unesco World Natural Heritage list. However, the same features that have given rise to this unique environment also make it vulnerable to destruction. As the areas are geographically isolated, the native animals and plants have never had to encounter the dangers that other species can pose. If these non-native species find their way onto the islands, they could very easily disrupt the careful balance that has been established over millions of years, necessitating the implementation of strict measures to prevent this scenario. Similarly, measures have been put in place to mitigate the dangers that roads pose to animals. Because Iriomote Island regulates the capture and collection of animals and plants, local nature conservation organisations are running awareness campaigns to ensure that the only thing guests take with them after their visits are their memories. Cruise lines can provide guests with the chance to explore two unique destinations by visiting Irimote Island and Northern Okinawa Island in Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, both of which have been named on the Unesco World Natural Heritage List AS I A: REPORT Fragile gems