Conservation of Satoyama Landscapes for the Restoration of Ecological Integrity of Urban Area in Japan
One of the major environmental issues Japanese cities is now facing with is the conservation of seminatural landscapes for the restoration of ecological integrity of urban areas. The satoyama landscape, which includes coppice woodlands, agricultural areas and rural settlements, is seen as an indispensable semi-natural landscape, formed as a result of man-nature interaction. However, because of the loss of the economic viability they are now abandoned and in the process of losing their ecological values. Today a number of local municipalities as well as NPO groups are involved in the conservation projects of these landscapes. Although satoyama landscapes are commonly believed to have maintained their character over the years, historical studies have revealed that these landscapes have experienced constant and dynamic changes due to a variation in human impacts. It is therefore understood that the conservation projects on satoyama landscapes should not intend to restore their past condition, but should wet the goal of maintaining their dynamic character by promoting ecological roles which the landscapes may play in the contemporary world. EXPO2005 project in Aichi Prefecture is a good example of a development project underway on satoyama landscapes which intend to conserve the landscapes by stimulating contemporary ecological for them. In EXPO2005 project the key issue was the conservation of semi-natural landscapes formed by constant and intensive human impacts over the centuries and thus allowing endemic and endangered species to be accommodated. The planning team proposed a scheme to restore economic viability of satoyama landscapes. The scheme involves re-introducing intensive human impacts through a new management system with an innovative technology. This may restore the economic viability of lumbers provided form satoyama woodlands. EXPO2005 is understood as a model case which stimulates contemporary ecological functions of satoyama landscapes by applying innovative planning concepts.
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