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At 17:40 local time on September 16 (21:39 on September 16 Vietnam time), in Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the 45th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved the nomination dossier, recognizing the Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Island (located in Quang Ninh province and Hai Phong city) as a World Natural Heritage.
Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island are two of the most beautiful and biodiverse places in Vietnam. They have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage on 16/09/2023, after a long and rigorous evaluation process. This is the first time that Vietnam has received both designations for the same area, reflecting the outstanding universal value and the rich biodiversity of this region.
Halong Bay was first recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site in 1994 under criteria (vii) and (viii). In 2000, it was again recognized by UNESCO for its outstanding geological and geomorphological value, but this new inscription recognizes its outstanding universal value as a cultural landscape as well. Halong Bay is famous for its thousands of limestone islands and islets, which create a stunning landscape of karst formations. The bay covers an area of about 1,500 square kilometers and hosts a rich variety of marine life, including coral reefs, fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and endangered species such as the dugong and the hawksbill turtle. Halong Bay also has a cultural and historical significance, as it was the site of several naval battles and legends.
Cat Ba Island is the largest island in Halong Bay and one of the most biodiverse areas in Vietnam. It hosts a variety of ecosystems, including tropical forests, mangroves, coral reefs, caves, and wetlands. The island is also a refuge for many endangered species, such as the Cat Ba langur, the golden-headed langur, and the white-headed langur. The island has been a biosphere reserve since 2004, but this new inscription recognizes its outstanding universal value as a natural heritage as well. The island is an example of how nature and culture can coexist harmoniously and sustainably.
Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island are not only natural beauties, but also valuable assets for sustainable development. They contribute to the local economy through tourism, fishing, and aquaculture. They also provide important ecological services, such as carbon sequestration, water purification, and climate regulation. They are also sources of inspiration and education for people who visit them.
The UNESCO recognition is the result of years of hard work and collaboration among various stakeholders, including the government, local communities, NGOs, and international partners. The recognition also comes with great responsibility: to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable development of this precious area. The authorities have pledged to implement effective management plans and regulations to protect the natural and cultural heritage of Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island from threats such as pollution, overexploitation, climate change, and mass tourism.
If you are planning to visit Vietnam, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island, and witness their natural and cultural wonders for yourself. You will be amazed by the scenery, the wildlife, the culture, and the hospitality of the people. And you will also be contributing to the conservation of these World Heritage Sites, by respecting their rules and regulations, and supporting their local businesses and communities