Last month, officials from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) told a World Heritage Committee conference that the project required a new environmental impact assessment on the illegal fishing concerns and the potential risk to the Komodo dragon’s natural habitat.
“This project will continue … it has been shown to have no impact,” Wiratno, a senior official with Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment, told Reuters.
UNESCO officials said at last month’s meeting that they had requested an updated assessment from the Indonesian government but received no response. Wiratno said a new assessment was being drafted that could be sent in September.
It was not clear exactly what the project, centered on Rinca Island, entails. Last year, the government said it was building a “premium tourist site” on the island.
In a separate statement, Wiratno said the project mainly included renovation work on existing structures and posed no danger to Komodo’s rare dragons.
Rima Melani Bilaut, of the Indonesia Forum for the Environment (WALHI), an environmental group, said the project could affect the local community and upset dragons.
“We urge the government to develop people-based tourism. There are people who live there,” he said.
Last year, social media users compared the project to one on a dinosaur island that appears in “Jurassic Park” movies after photos of a dragon standing in front of a large vehicle were widely shared online.
According to government data, there are about 3,100 Komodo dragons in Indonesia. The only lizards grow up to 3 meters long and have a yellow fork tongue.
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