Palau is going to celebrate the seventh year anniversary of the inscription of the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon as a UNESCO world heritage site on June 29.

Koror State’s Conservation and Law Enforcement Outreach Officer Dora Benhart told Island Times that their office is preparing activities for the celebration among which include the installation of signage in major Rock Island Southern Lagoon sites.

Benhart said that this is the first time the state is celebrating the inscription anniversary after it was officially declared as a UNESCO world heritage site on June 29, 2012.

In this year’s celebration, Koror State’s Department of Conservation and Law Enforcement wants to expand its outreach and education campaign to the public and be able to produce guardians of the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, Benhart said.

The Ngara Maiberel women civic group, a non-government organization, will also be joining the office on their Rock Island trip this Saturday, June 29, to witness the installment of the two UNESCO world heritage signages. They are also going to put up a welcome sign at the Koror state entry point near the Japan-Palau Friendship bridge which will indicate that Koror is the home of the UNESCO world heritage site. Benhart, however, clarified that the schedules for these activities are subject to changes due to the bad weather. The National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) had recently issued a small craft advisory.

Benhart said that the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon is more than just a place for picnic as it also carries a universal value.

“It is rooted in our culture. It is part of our way of life. In the endorsement of the Rock Island to the UNESCO to become a world heritage site, it was noted that this was where the journey of the Palauans began. The civilization and the migration came from the Rock Islands and spread to Koror and to Babeldaob,” Benhart said.

Benhart added that the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, as a number one tourist destination in Palau, resulted into increased use and activities in the area, hence there is a need to engage with the locals and visitors and educate them in how to continue protecting it.

Benhart said that their office wants to make sure that regulations are in place for the famous Rock Island sites and at the same time, educate the public to do their own part in protecting the area. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)