THE ongoing infrastructure development in Komodo National Park, East Nusa Tenggara, has come under the spotlight after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) urged the government to halt the project.
During its virtual meeting last month, Unesco’s World Heritage Committee, which has the authority to determine World Heritage status for sites, outlined its concerns over the planned development of the national park, which the committee warned could threaten the park’s outstanding universal value (OUV).
The OUV is one of the main criteria used by the committee to determine whether a site should be accorded Unesco World Heritage status. The Komodo National Park has been included in Unesco’s World Heritage list since 1991.
In one of the reports, the committee urged the government to halt all tourism infrastructure projects in and around the national park, particularly those that have the potential to affect the park’s OUV, until the government has submitted a revised environmental impact assessment (EIA) to be reviewed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“It is of concern that the EIA for the tourism infrastructure projects on Rinca Island did not adequately assess potential impacts on the property’s OUV,” the report reads.
Rinca Island is one of three major islands within Komodo National Park, along with Komodo Island and Padar Island.
In the report, the committee also asked the government to submit detailed information in its plan to ensure that the Komodo National Park’s OUV will be safeguarded along with the revised EIA.
The World Heritage Committee’s concerns have raised further questions over the government’s plan to turn Komodo National Park and the neighbouring city of Labuan Bajo, which is located outside the national park, into one of its premium tourism destinations as outlined in the latter’s Integrated Tourism Master Plan.
The government’s tourism plan for the national park began to receive attention last year after a viral photo on social media showed a Komodo dragon appearing to face off against a pair of construction workers, sparking alarm that infrastructure development in the area would come at the cost of endangering the dragon’s habitat. — The Jakarta Post/ANN