HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ten years ago Thursday, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii was designated a world heritage site.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized the monument as “one of the best examples of both the world’s cultural as well as natural heritage.”
It’s also one of just 24 World Heritage sites in the United States and one of two in Hawaii, along with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
“The celebration of 10 years as a World Heritage site is more than a milestone,” said Athline Clark, NOAA superintendent of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, in a news release.
“It demonstrates a commitment by our managers and the Nation to protect and conserve this rare and special place for future generations.”
In order to be designated as a World Heritage site, a country has to nominate it and then be chosen by UNESCO. The criteria includes whether the site is important to the collective interests of humanity, and represents a unique or best example of the world’s cultural or natural heritage.
In order to be included on the World Heritage List, sites have to meet at least one of the 10 criteria under either natural or cultural categories.
Papahanaumokuakea met multiple criteria for both categories and is only one of 39 global locations designated as a mixed site for natural and cultural importance, out of 1,121 sites worldwide.
The 1,350 mile stretch of coral islands, seamounts, banks and shoals is on a list of other notable sites such as the Great Barrier Reef, Galapagos Islands, Great Wall of China and the Pyramid Fields of Egypt.
Papahanaumokuakea is home to a diverse array of species such as the rare green turtle and endangered Hawaiian monk seal. 14 million seabirds representing 22 species also breed and nest there.
The site is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world, encompassing 582,578 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.