23 Jul 2010

Two central Pacific sites being considered for World Heritage status

1:37 pm on 23 July 2010

An atoll rendered uninhabitable by nuclear testing is among this year's list of sites bidding for World Heritage status.

Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands and the Phoenix Islands protected area in Kiribati are the two Pacific sites that'll be considered at the UNESCO Heritage Committee's next meeting, which starts in Brazil on Sunday.

If successful, the two areas will join only four other Pacific Island sites; East Rennell in Solomon Islands, Chief Roi Mata's domain in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea's Kuk Early Agricultural site and the lagoons of New Caledonia.

A spokesperson for Bikini, Jack Niedenthal, says its historical value isn't the only reason the atoll should be included.

"You have to imagine a place where no people have lived there for 60 years. So it's really come roaring back, there's so much sea life in the lagoon and Conde Nast travel magazine, which is a very well-respected magazine called it a Garden of Eden."

Jack Niedenthal says people will be able to live on Bikini Atoll again in another 60 years.