Landscape of paddy filed (provided by Akira Gotoh)
  • Satoyama
  • Forest
  • Water resources
  • New initlatives(non-PES)

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  • Kabukuri-numa and surrounding rice paddies
  • Reintroducing the oriental white stork in Toyooka City
  • Reintroducing the crested ibis in Sado City
  • Fish cradle paddies in Shiga Prefecture

Conserving Satoyama through environment-friendly rice production

Situated between urban areas and pristine forests, Satoyama is a human-influenced natural environment, comprised of farmlands (rice paddies), secondary forests, reservoirs and channels. Forty percent of Japan is Satoyama, traditional production landscapes representing sustainable practices of agriculture, forestry and fishery that the Japanese people have long been engaged in.

The Satoyama environment is said to have been shaped over the years by interactions between people and nature which date back to the Yayoi Era approximately 3,000 years ago (MoE, 2010). Distinct from pristine nature, many wild fauna and flora, including endemic species and endangered species have adapted to Satoyama, which has become an essential habitat for them. Satoyama is not only important in terms of biodiversity and ecosystems or as production landscape; it has become valued as a recreational place close to home where people enjoy being in contact with nature.

However, in recent years, with decreasing but aging populations, many Satoyama areas have lost the manpower that once sustainably utilized and managed the resources available in the area. Therefore, the landscape, which had been fostered as a result of adequate human influence, has become degraded, impacting the existence or growth of a diversity of flora and fauna. This has been raised in the National Biodiversity Strategy 2010 formulated in March, 2010 as one the three crises of biodiversity – crisis inflicted by reduced or discontinued human approaches in Satoyama.

A secondary natural environment, Satoyama can be maintained or restored by improving and conserving it, effectively using local natural resources such as biomass, promoting sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries that are more focused on conserving biodiversity[1] and revitalizing farming and mountain villages. Recently, brand rice that has been produced with special considerations for biodiversity and forest products that have been certified to come from sustainably managed forests, have become widely popular, therefore effectively working as incentives toward sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries. When biodiversity-oriented products are sold for a premium price, consumers are, in theory, partially assuming the costs for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Satoyama area.

Furthermore, in some of the programs introduced, paddy fields that produce biodiversity-friendly rice are not just home to a diversity of flora and fauna but are also places where humans can interact with a diversity of wildlife. Paddies embracing the oriental white stork or the crested ibis are also employed as tourism resources, thereby contributing to further local revitalization. Promoting sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries in a Satoyama area has generated not only relevant products but also effective results, which could be of high interest to other countries of the world.

This section will introduce four programs initially launched by local governments with the aim of protecting endangered species, such as the oriental white stork and the crested ibis, as well as pursuing sustainable agriculture with consideration for biodiversity and the environment. Under all of these programs, rice and other products have gradually gained broader recognition, therefore contributing to local revitalization.

[1] The National Biodiversity Strategy of Japan 2010 stipulates that a direction to be pursued by Satoyama and rural areas is to activate sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries more focused on biodiversity for more harmonious relationships between humans and nature. (Part I Chapter 3 Section 2 Subsection 3: Grand design in accordance with based on national land characteristics)

· Ministry of the Environment (2010) National Biodiversity Strategy of Japan 2010
· Ministry of the Environment, ed. (2010) Action Plan for Satochi-Satoyama Conservation and Use(draft)

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