Heritage value

Why is it that the only place on Earth where these wildlife live is here?

These islands have seen evolution proceed in ways unique to each

Once, in the distant past the Ryukyu Islands were connected to the Asian mainland, but they repeatedly separated and rejoined with it over the millennia as a result of changes in the sea level and other factors to take shape as the island we know today. There is wildlife that originally inhabited the mainland, but owing to their separation onto their respective islands, have evolved in ways distinctive to their respective environments.

The Formation of the Ryukyu Islands

The Formation of the Ryukyu Islands
Topographic map courtesy of Ministry of the Environment, from “Biodiversity of the Amami-Ryukyu Islands: The Diverse Wildlife That the Islands Conceal” (partially revised)

This is ecosystem inhabited by diverse wildlife, includes some found nowhere else and others that differ from island to island

The Okinawa rail lives only in the Yambaru region, while the Iriomote cat lives only on Iriomote Island. There are also cases in which the subspecies of a particular genus differ by region, such as the Okinawa tree lizard wherein the Japalura polygonata subspecies may be found throughout the Amami and Okinawa Islands while the Japalura polygonata ishigakiensis subspecies is distributed throughout the Sakishima Islands except for Yonaguni Island.

Okinawa rail (Gallirallus okinawae) [ Designated Natural Monument ( National ) ]
Yanbaru Long-armed Scarab Beetle(Cheirotonus jambar)
[ Designated Natural Monument ( National ) ]
Okinawa tree lizard (Okinawa)(Japalura polygonata polygonata)
Okinawa tree lizard (Sakishima)(Japalura polygonata ishigakiensis)
Crested serpent eagle(Spilornis cheela perplexus)
[Special Designated Natural Monument ( National )]
Yaeyama yellow-margined box turtle(Cuora flavomarginata evelynae)
[ Designated Natural Monument ( National ) ]

Biodiversity and Its Importance

Biodiversity is a general term for the diversity that can be seen at all biological levels, from the diversity of species, genetic diversity, to the diversity of ecosystems.
It can refer to the varied differences of character traits among individuals of the same species or interpopulation; to the fact that varied species live in great numbers at the regional or global level; or to the existence of ecosystems with structures that vary from region to region.
Biodiversity is a wellspring that generates a variety of ecosystem services: it provides useful goods such as foodstuffs and building materials; it has an effect on maintaining environmental conditions such as regulating the climate and keeping water clean on an appropriate scale; and it has an effect on the spirit through its aesthetic and religious influences. Given our fears over how hard it may become for us to enjoy these ongoing ecosystemic services due to a decline in biodiversity, the deep connections it has with how we live make it all the more important that we protect it.

Okinawa woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii)
[ Special Designated Natural Monument ( National )]
Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle(Geoemyda japonica)
[ Designated Natural Monument ( National )]