The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared the Wakatobi Marine National Park of Southeast Sulawesi province as a world biosphere reserve area unconditionally.
The decision to declare the 1.3 million hectares park and 12 other biosphere reserves in the world was made during the 18th meeting of the International Advisory Committee for UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserve Programme in Paris from April 2 to 4 this year, Wakatobi Regent Hugua said Thursday.
Hugua said with Wakatobi becoming a world biosphere reserve in July 2012, Indonesia will soon have eight areas with the same status.
He said the UNESCO is looking at protecting three areas with the establishment of Wakatobi National Park as a world biosphere reserve: local knowledge, environmental sustainability, and sustainable economic interests of local society.
"Local knowledge is related to the cultural traditions of communities," Hugua said.
Waters at the park feature a diversity of coral reefs and marine life that is comparatively higher than other regions in the world. The Wakatobi waters boast 750 species of coral reefs out of a total of 850 species worldwide.
With regard to economic interests, residents in Wakatobi should be able to exploit the existing natural resources in a sustainable manner without disrupting the environmental balance, Hugua added.