27-28 November 2015, the Hokusetsu SATOYAMA International Workshop, jointly organised by APN and the Hyogo Prefectural Government, was held in Takarazuka city and Itami city. The Workshop consists of two separate sessions: (1) International Workshop on SATOYAMA and (2) International Open Seminar on SATOYAMA, aimed to raise the awareness and efforts in sustaining SATOYAMA-like ecosystems/landscapes.
Key messages that were drawn from the Hokusetsu SATOYAMA International Workshop include:
- The empowerment of indigenous and or local communities, and building confidence among the residents towards their land is the first step to maintain SATOYAMA-like ecosystems/landscapes.
- In order to sustainably maintain SATOYAMA-like ecosystems/landscapes, it is crucial to involve stakeholders from different backgrounds, and the more diverse involved parties become, the better in developing practical and forthcoming measures.
- The values of SATOYAMA-like ecosystems/landscapes are still well applicable in the modern day in a variety of industry fields including construction, energy, tourism, education and food.
The blessings which SATOYAMA-like ecosystems/landscapes confer make a significant contribution in building a sustainable and rich society which overlaps with the goal of APN. Hence, APN will continue this endeavour by supporting research, building linkages between different fields, and organising events to raise awareness among citizens.
The International Workshop on SATOYAMA
The International Workshop on SATOYAMA targeted participants to freely exchange their views and generate ideas in breakout groups on two questions: (1) how to engage new stakeholders and existing stakeholders with different backgrounds/interests to work collaboratively in sustaining SATOYAMA and (2) what are the added values necessary to sustainably maintain SATOYAMA. Participants ageing from 19 to 78 years old actively shared their ideas on values and attractiveness, and the purpose, barrier and potential structures in enhancing the effort in sustaining SATOYAMA.
The International Open Seminar on SATOYAMA
The seminar was held on day two with the attendance of approximately 150 participants. The Seminar featured two keynote speeches, and five case reports from Japan and overseas to gather insights on ways to attract new stakeholders and effectively utilise SATOYAMA-like ecosystem/landscape in the modern-day.
Mr. Kosuke Motani, The Japan Research Institute (Japan)
Touching on the history of Japan where massive amounts of trees were planted after the end of World War Two, Mr Motani spoke on the danger associated with current mountains which are full of untouched outliving trees that are unable to store water anymore and which the amount of carbon dioxide it can absorb has declined dramatically. Mr Motani emphasised the importance of logging matured/highly intense trees and: (1) popularising new construction material which is strengthened by combing different types of wood and is lighter than concrete, (2) converting thickets to fuelwood forests and, (3) expanding interaction between young people and elders. With the increase of electricity and heating oil prices, the invention of smoke-free stoves, and by logging and planting trees every 20 years, Mr Motani stressed that using trees as a source of energy is much more cost effective and sustainable in the 21st century.
Dr. Mitsuyo Toyoda, Center for Toki Ecological Restoration, Niigata University (Japan)
Sharing the experiences of Sado Island Research Group for Lake Kamo Revitalization, a non-profit organisation where local residents, governments and researchers jointly work to deepen the understanding and cooperation in revitalising Lake Kamo in Niigata prefecture for oyster farming, Dr Toyoda introduced how “collaboration” was initiated and developed through “citizen oriented construction work”. Through the process of restoring armlets and regenerating common reed grass, and organising group discussions for children and adults to broaden visions for future activities, the group has created an open and equal environment where “everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student”.
Prof. Nimal Gunatilleke, University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)
Professor Gunatilleke presented the concept of green economic initiative and how Sri Lanka utilise SATOYAMA like eco-system/landscape in the modern day by showcasing examples from the Kandyan Home Gardens and the Ellangawa Cascade Systems. With the participation of local residents, business models of community-based organic farming producing spices and ecotourism in traditional villas has become a big success where the country is attracting domestic and foreign markets.
Dr. Kuang-Chuang Lee, National Dong-Hwa University (Taiwan)
Efforts to legally preserve the rice paddy cultural landscape in Cihalaay serves as a good example in sustaining cultural landscapes in an aging and declining rural area. Dr Lee introduced the approach he and his team took by conducting field surveys, investigation and analysis on cultural landscape resources, and by opening multiple community forums to build consensus among all stakeholders including policy makers, tribal leaders, villagers, researchers and NGOs. Through the case study, a stakeholder platform was built to increase working partnership and to assign responsibilities, and conclusively succeeded in formulating a mid-term management plan of the rice paddy cultural landscape.
Ms. Kien Dang, Social Policy Ecology Research Institute (Vietnam)
In order to address extreme poverty among rural populations, the vitality and resilience of land, soil, forests and rivers must be ensured. Ms Dang shared the experience of the Farmers Field School, a training facility for indigenous ethnic minority youths to regenerate degraded forests, nurture soil and produce ecological vegetables through traditional wisdom and permaculture knowledge. This programme leads to empowering indigenous youths and also contributes to increasing forest coverage, improving the quality of the forest and bringing back the rich biodiversity.
Ms. Kanako Kitada, Midori no Kankyo Club (Japan)
Ms Kitada spoke about her experience as a housewife becoming actively engaged in Satoyama conservation. Coming from a feeling of redemption as a resident of a new town, Ms Kitada developed a sense of danger when knowing that Satoyama in her community were abandoned and deteriorating due to lack of care. In 1997, with members from the citizens’ meeting, Ms Kitada established the Midori no Kankyo Club to preserve the environment. Today, their efforts range from managing trees, organising experience learning for students, and research on pests and non-native insects.
Mr. Yasuo Ozasa, Hyogo Mori-zukuri Center (Japan)
As a coordinator for connecting private companies and the forest, Mr Ozasa introduced how companies utilise activities of forest conservation in order to build a sense of camaraderie, understand the importance of teamwork, and foster a self driven and self started mindset among employers. The activity also serves as an opportunity for employers to think and discuss about environmental issues, natural life forms and history/culture which is unique to the land. Furthermore, the activity enables companies to reflect on how they can fulfill its responsibility to the society.