South Korea has filed an application with the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to turn a portion of the DMZ into what is known as a biosphere reserve, an internationally recognized conservation site, Scientific American reported Tuesday.
The reserve would join 580 other UNESCO biosphere reserves in 114 countries including four already in South Korea.
The DMZ, existing since the Korean War armistice in 1953, spans 155 miles from coast to coast along the border between the two countries, extending a little more than a mile from each side of the border.
South Korea's UNESCO application seeks to protect the 164 square miles of the DMZ closest to it and an additional 980 square miles in South Korean territory.
People are generally not allowed into the DMZ and it has become a haven for many rare species including a number of endangered ones almost extinct in other parts of the country such as the Amur leopard cat, the red-crowned crane and the Siberian musk deer.