In the past half century, the Korean DMZ has been a deadly place for humans, making habitation impossible. Only around the village of Panmunjeom and more recently the Dong Bukbu Line on Korea's east coast have there been regular incursions by people.
This natural isolation along the 155 miles (249 km) length of the DMZ has created an involuntary park which is now recognised as one of the most well-preserved areas of temperate habitat in the world.
Several endangered animal and plant species now exist among the heavily fortified fences, landmines and listening posts. These include the extremely rare Red-crowned Crane (a staple of Asian art), and the White-naped Crane as well as, potentially, the extremely rare Korean Tiger, Amur leopard and Asiatic black bear. Ecologists have identified some 2,900 plant species, 70 types of mammals and 320 kinds of birds within the narrow buffer zone. Additional surveys are now being conducted throughout the region.
The DMZ owes its varied biodiversity to its geography, which crosses mountains, prairies, swamps, lakes and tidal marshes. Environmentalists hope that the DMZ will be conserved as a wildlife refuge, with a well-developed set of objective and management plans vetted and in place. In 2005, CNN founder and media mogul, Ted Turner, on a visit to North Korea, said that he would financially support any plans to turn the DMZ into a peace park and a UN-protected World Heritage Site.
In September 2011, South Korea submitted Nomination form to Man and the Biosphere Programme(MAB) in UNESCO for designation of 435 km² in the southern part of the DMZ below the Military Demarcation Line, as well as 2,979 km² in privately controlled areas, as a Biosphere Reserve according to the Statutory Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. MAB National Committee of the Republic of Korea mentioned only southern part of DMZ to be nominated since there was no response from Pyoungyang when it requested Pyoungyang to push jointly. North Korea is a member nation of the international coordinating council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, which designates Biosphere Reserves.
The country is known to be gearing up to attack the application as a violation of the armistice agreement during the council’s meeting in Paris on July 9 to 13. The South Korean government’s attempt to designate the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve was turned down at UNESCO’s MAB council meeting in Paris in July, 2012. Pyongyang expressed its opposition by sending letters to 32 council member countries, except for Korea, and the UNESCO headquarters a month prior to the meeting. At the council meeting, Pyongyang unfolded political rhetoric, claiming that the designation violates the Armistice Agreement. It also claimed that DMZ is under jurisdiction of both South Korea and UNC, therefore it is necessary to gain consent from UNC over the designation. Despite the effort put by Republic of Korea, on July 12, the MAB International Coordinating Council (ICC) deferred South Korea’s Sept. 2011 application.
Read more about this topic: Korean Demilitarized Zone
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