The application proposes that Hin Nam No National Park be granted world heritage status as a transboundary extension to the adjacent Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a world heritage site in Vietnam, as reported by Lao national TV on Friday.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Center will dispatch expert teams to Laos this year to inspect the world heritage elements of Hin Nam No National Park as outlined in the application document.

If successful, this joint recognition will celebrate the exceptional biodiversity and natural significance of both parks, making it the first transboundary natural world heritage site in South-East Asia and one of the region’s largest contiguous tropical karst areas under protection, according to the report.

Hin Nam No National Park has been recognized as one of the world’s most important sites for biodiversity conservation based on the characteristics of wildlife and forest habitats, outstanding geological features, and the diversity of fauna and flora including endangered species, endemic species, and species endemic to limestone forests, Lao Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Vansy Kuamua said at a press conference earlier this week.

The upgrade of the park to a UNESCO World Heritage Site would be a valuable contribution to the conservation of this unique ecosystem, he added.

Laos currently has three world heritage sites, including the Plain of Jars in northern Laos’ Xieng Khuang province, the Vat Phou temple complex in southern Laos’ Champasak province, and the town of Luang Prabang in northern Laos’ Luang Prabang province.