We read with great interest your recent articles, “Komodo National Park ranks sixth place in Global Poll” (The Jakarta Post, Jan. 4) and “Government ramps up drive to secure Komodo Park nature honor” (Jan. 7, online edition).
Komodo is indeed a truly magnificent “wonder of the world” and should be recognized by the rest of the world as such. The fact that it has, to date, beaten out more than 400 other sites around the world is a testament to what a truly beautiful and unique place Komodo is. At 173,000 hectares comprising an array of pristine savannah, coastal, and marine habitats, and containing the Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest living lizard, and indigenous cultures, Komodo is an ideal site for cultural and eco-tourism.
These unique features led to Komodo being inscribed a natural UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991 through a rigorous scientifically-based review. We were somewhat surprised that in recent media reports on Komodo, including in the articles in The Jakarta Post, no reference was made to the UNESCO World Heritage Listing of Komodo.
World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of truly outstanding universal value to humanity, and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. Such sites are designated through the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, which 187 countries have ratified.
The current list includes 911 sites world wide, both natural and cultural, including places such as the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Taj Mahal in India, the Grand Canyon in the US and the Borobudur in Indonesia. Indonesia currently has seven cultural and natural World Heritage sites, one of which is Komodo.
The push for Komodo as one of the New Seven Natural Wonders has stirred the pride and excitement of Indonesian citizens. However, we feel that the media also have a role to remind and educate the general public about the listing of Komodo as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Contrary to the Seven Wonders, World Heritage listing is not based simply on a popular vote, but it is the result of an independent and thorough expert review process. This recognition will indirectly but undoubtedly boost Indonesia’s pride at its rich and diverse national natural and cultural heritage such as batik, Borobudur, Sumatran tropical rainforests and Sangiran, among others.
We feel that Komodo as a World Heritage site and, possibly, one of the new Seven Natural Wonders will truly give the site a universal stamp of appreciation. At the same time, we hope that the Indonesian people will remember that the labels of “World Heritage” or “Seven Natural Wonders” means nothing if these sites are not fully appreciated and managed well.
As such, the government and the people of Indonesia should not only take part in the voting of Komodo as a natural wonder, but should also proactively engage in efforts to preserve these sites for future generations of Indonesians and other global citizens to enjoy in perpetuity.