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Definition

Natural monuments and scenic sites are part of the "cultural properties" protected by the
"Cultural Properties Protection Act". The term “cultural properties”in this Act means the
national, racial, global legacies, which have been artificially or naturally formed, carry the great historic, artistic, academic and scenic values, and fall under any of the three following
categories: tangible cultural properties, intangible cultural properties, monuments, and folklore materials. Historic sites, natural monuments, and scenic sites are under the category of monuments. These "cultural properties" are classified as "State-designated cultural properties", "City/Do(Province)-designated cultural properties", and "Cultural properties materials".

Natural monuments are animals (including their habitats, breeding sites and migratory sites), plants (including their natural habitats), minerals, caves, geological features, biological products and special natural phenomena, carrying great historic, cultural, scientific, aesthetic or academic values, through which the history of a nation or the secrets to the creation of the earth can be identified or revealed.

Natural monuments are diverse in their kinds. Plant natural monuments are old and big trees, rare plants (natural habitats, stands, species), natural habitats, woods and forests (scientific research forests, windbreak forests). Animal natural monuments are species, natural habitats, breeding sites, and migratory sites. Geological and mineral natural monuments are natural caves, rocks and minerals, geological features, and fossils. Nature reserves are representative areas with abundant natural monuments.

Designation

According to the "Cultural Properties Protection Act", the Administrator of the Cultural
Heritage Administration may designate a historic site, a scenic site or a natural monument
based on the importance of the necessity for the protection of the properties by going through the deliberations of the Cultural Properties Committee which is composed of experts in such area.

Conservation and Management

Natural monuments should be preserved in their natural or original conditions. According to
the "Cultural Properties Protection Act", unauthorized change of the original states of a
cultural property is not allowed, and that principle is applied to the natural monuments. In
natural monuments, the original states are natural states or current states. In addition, the
landscape surrounding of the natural monuments is protected too. "Cultural Properties
Protection Act" states that the actions which will affect the preservation of a cultural property
in addition to the changes in the original states should acquire the permission from the
Cultural Properties Committee.

The main body for the management of a state-designated cultural property is the owner of the property. However, when the owner is not clear or the management by the owner is not
possible nor appropriate, then the Cultural Heritage Administration may designate the local
government or a corporation or a group to manage that property.

Current Status of the Designation

Up to December, 2006, the total number of state-designated natural monuments is 367. There are 228 plant natural monuments, 77 animal monuments, 52 geological and mineral
monuments, and 10 nature reserves.

Among the plant natural monuments, there are 19 rare plants, 140 old and big trees, 26
natural habitats, and 38 woods and forests (18 scientific research forests and 20 windbreak
forests). Among the animal natural monuments, there are 7 natural habitats, 15 breeding sites, 6 migratory sites and 49 animal species (10 mammals, 27 birds, 4 insects, 2 marine animals, and 6 fishes). Among the geological and mineral natural monuments, there are 15 natural caves, 4 rocks and minerals, 19 geological features, and 14 fossil sites.

Nature reserves are part of the natural monuments, but are separated from other natural
monuments by having "nature reserve" in their site names since they are relatively very large in area compared to other natural monuments and their role in biodiversity conservation is significant.

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