The U.S.-based nongovermental organization DMZ Forum hopes to formally protect the entire DMZ, even if the two Koreas unify. The organization seeks permission from the North and South Korean governments to obtain UNESCO World Heritage Site classification of the entire DMZ and its adjacent Military Control and Civilian Control Zones.
"As resilient as these habitats have proven to be, they can't sustain this level of development on a broader scale," said Hall Healy, who was president of the DMZ Forum at the time, in the Christian Science Monitor, "We have already lost vast swaths of the CCZ, and the DMZ may not be as amazing without them."
Successful conservation projects are already taking advantage of the DMZ's potential as a wildlife refuge.
One project protects the winter habitat of more than 1,000 white-napped cranes in the Han River estuary and Anbyon Plain of south Korea. Another, also in the Anbyon Plain, protects both white-napped and red-crowned cranes.
The second project has built political and cultural bridges as well. It involves collaboration between North and South Korean, as well as Japanese, scientists, reported Al-Jazeera.