Govt gives stamp of approval to Hin Nam No national park

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government has officially approved the establishment of Hin Nam No (Stone Forest) National Protection Area in Bualapha district, Khammuan province as a national park as part of efforts to protect biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

Hin Nam No’s establishment will preserve the area’s unique natural landscape and its historical significance, as well as help improve local residents’ living standards through socio-economic development.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith signed the decree on the establishment of the park on January 15, giving formal legal backing for the administration of the park.

The park covers an area of 94,121 hectares, with funding to protect and develop the park to come from the government, Environment Protection Fund, National Tourism Fund and the Forest and Forest Resource Development Fund.

Hin Nam Nor is a dramatic range of limestone peaks located in Khammuan province, about 150km south-east of Thakhaek district.

It is home to over 40 mammal species, over 200 bird species, 25 bat species, 46 species of amphibians and reptiles, over 100 fish species, and more than 520 plant species, according to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

Currently Laos is speeding up the preparation of documents to request the listing of Hin Nam No as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism is preparing documents in cooperation with the Vietnamese government to record the Hin Nam No National Protection Area as a transboundary World Heritage Site together with Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park.

The governments of Laos and Vietnam will work together to achieve their target to list the Hin Nam No National Protection Area as Laos’ first natural World Heritage Site and the first transboundary World Heritage Site in the region.

The proposed transboundary World Heritage Site, comprising the Hin Nam No National Protection Area and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, is seen as an important legacy of the longstanding friendship between Laos and Vietnam.

Being the home and custodian of a new world heritage site that includes both Hin Nam No and Phong Nha-Ke Bang would mean that Laos is becoming part of a global community of countries that protects nature’s heritage and values for all humanity.

Furthermore, Laos would be the first country in South-East Asia to have created a transboundary world heritage site together with a neighbouring country, according to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

The nation presently has three World Heritage Sites. The Plain of Jars was listed by UNESCO last year, while the Old Quarter in Luang Prabang was inscribed in 1995, followed by Vat Phou Champassak in 2001.

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