Hin Nam No National Park Moves Closer to World Heritage Status

Hin Nam No National Park Moves Closer to World Heritage Status
Hin Nam No National Park (photo: Vientiane Times)

Hin Nam No National Park is on the path to achieving World Heritage Status, with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepting its complete application document. However, additional reviews are necessary before the park can receive this prestigious status.

Phankhalxay Sikanxay, the Director General of the Heritage Department at the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, provided an update in a meeting between 11 to 12 March, saying that Vietnam had received an official notification from the UNESCO World Heritage Center confirming the completeness of Laos’ application documents for Hin Nam No National Park. 

These documents have reportedly been forwarded to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the advisory body of the World Heritage Committee, for review. Following this, a team of experts from the World Heritage Center will visit Laos to inspect the actual heritage sources to ensure the accuracy of the submitted documents.

The meeting also discussed the dissemination of information to central, local, and grassroots societies, particularly within Khammouane Province, to enhance their understanding of the park’s value as a shared world heritage site. Additionally, discussions were held with the German Development Organization in Laos (GIZ) on a cooperation plan for sustainable forest ecosystem protection and biodiversity.

Hin Nam No National Protected Area is located in central Laos, where the Central Indochina Limestone meets the Annamite Mountain Chain. This chain extends into Vietnam, where a significant portion of the contiguous Phong Nha Ke Bang karst has been designated as a National Park and Natural World Heritage site.

In 2018, the governments of Laos and Vietnam signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with Vietnam pledging full support for the nomination of Hin Nam No National Protected Area as a transboundary World Heritage Site. This nomination is in partnership with the established natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.

The Lao government first confirmed the nomination of Hin Nam No National Park for the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas, a global standard for protected area management back in 2021. 

Managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, the park is supported by the German Government’s ProFEB project. Once certified, it will be the largest protected tropical karst area globally, covering 94,000 hectares of pristine karst forests. The certification will enhance international recognition and conservation efforts, setting a precedent for other protected areas in Laos and aiding its UNESCO World Heritage nomination.

As preparations continue for the potential world heritage status of Hin Nam No National Park, stakeholders remain committed to promoting and preserving this natural treasure. The collaboration between the Lao government and international partners highlights the significance of sustainable conservation efforts in safeguarding the park’s unique biodiversity and ecosystem.