New links between the natural, cultural, and human resources in Satoyama landscapes of Japan

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Katsue Fukamachi - Kyoto University

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Katsue Fukamachi

In recent years, Japan’s environmental policy-making has been strongly impacted by heightened public interest in the conservation of nature, and by the ongoing international discussion on biodiversity. The Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) held in 2010 in Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture designated the phrase “Living in Harmony with Nature” as its long-term vision, and adopted new global targets known as the Aichi Targets. In view of the realization of these targets, the Japanese government and the United Nations University submitted the “Satoyama Initiative,” which sheds light on natural environments such as satoyama landscapes that have been shaped and maintained by human activity. The initiative was acknowledged by the international forum as a useful tool to better understand and support human-influenced natural environments for the benefit of biodiversity and human well-being. It particularly proposes to gather knowledge on living in harmony with nature from areas worldwide, and to globally promote sustainable land use and use of natural resources. An action-oriented research working with stakeholders was conducted in traditional satoyama landscapes on the west side of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. They are suburban areas with rapid increase of newcomers in recent years. Many of the newcomers moved to the area to be closer to the natural environment, and local NGOs and NPOs have been conducting satoyama landscape restoration projects by using natural resources. For example, forest resources are used for woodstoves, outdoor cooking activities or as organic fertilizer in fields. Vegetables or rice harvested in agricultural fields are prepared during management or recreation events, and help to provide energy to the satoyama management workers. In addition, this social movement includes a combined lakeshore/forest environment restoration with citizen participation. Such mini-cycle of local natural resources has value as a tool for environmental education and nature awareness of the local population. The use of natural resources, which are recently encouraged in the areas, can be substantially enhanced if the links between the natural, cultural, and human resources of the interior rural area and the coast are actively strengthened. While this potential encourages local areas to keep using traditional methods, the conservation and continued use of satoyama landscapes won’t be possible without efficient new management systems on a larger scale. The establishment of a system for mutual consent and for the “New Commons” needs to be further discussed and promoted.



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