A wonderful video about Satoyama by Anne McDonald, Mio Horiuchi, and Toshiya Kai at the United Nations University.
Forests, wetlands and rice paddies, and grasslands: In Japanese, there is a name for this kind of area that encompasses these ecosystems, along with houses and roads and shops where people make a living: Satoyama (里山）: It is similar to the English concept of "the commons" yet this is much more of a people-land concept. Satoyama, here where I live in central Saitama, the word means people who farm, people who have small shops, people who take care of the forests up on the hills. Here, people live in spite of the Seibu golf courses, in spite of the trucks that pass by on the roads built with money from Tokyo, in spite of a lot of madness imposed by others. Satoyama is almost like a verb. You live it. It is a sustainable kind of investment, like putting a seed in the soil, knowing that sooner or later, a crop, a plant, will emerge.
As the academics put it:
For many Japanese, satoyama represents the ideal of coexistence between humans and nature. It is commonly described as secondary woodlands and grasslands adjunct to small villages, and is the scene of rich biological diversity.
The first written reference to satoyama dates back to 1759. Forester Hyoemon Terauchi recorded the livelihoods of rural mountain woodland communities and used the term satoyama to describe the human managed landscapes surrounding those communities.
Read more: Harvest Time In Satoyama
Gradually increasing public awareness of the links between satoyama landscapes and food and fuel security is a welcome trend among researchers involved in satoyama ecosystem assessments.
In 2006, the United Nations University-Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) initiated a comprehensive national ecosystem assessment focusing on satoyama. Referred to as the Satoyama-Satoumi Sub-Global Assessment, it is intended to be part of the network of over 30 sub-global ecosystem assessments. To ensure an in-depth report, Japan was broken down into 5 clusters (one of which is the Hoku-Shinetsu Cluster and the work of UNU-IAS Operating Unit Ishikawa/Kanazawa featured in the video).
Focusing on the last 50 years of satoyama landscape change, each cluster report follows the framework of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The findings will be integrated into a national report to be published in time for the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
Many of the writers assessing the ecosystem services provided by satoyama landscapes hope that their findings will feed into designs for a sustainable society that draw from the past to forge a contemporary model for sustainability; a model that contributes not only to sustainable food and fuel production but also to biodiversity conservation strategies and initiatives in Japan.
Updated: The video was produced by Kaori Brand at the UNU Media Studio. The article was written by Anne, Moi and Toshiya. Thanks Brendan for the additional information!
Blogs I Like
- Ad B: Japan Navigator
- Adventures of a (Swedish) Salariman in Tokyo
- Amy: Blue Lotus
- Boing Boing: Wonderful Things
- Brendan: UNU OurWorld 2.0
- Hiroko & Rick: Itadakimasu
- Jared B: Tokyo Green Space
- Joan: Popcorn Homestead
- Jon: Toshogu or As I See Japan... From L.A.
- Justin B: The Rational Pessimist (Climate & Risk)
- Kat: Food Adventures in Japan
- Ken: KenElwood in semi-rural Japan
- Mari: Watashi to Tokyo
- MTC: Shisaku
- Otakimura: In The Pines
- P: Pacific Islander
- Peko Peko: Kyoto Foodie
- Richard H: Spike Japan
- Risa & Kirk: Savory Japan
- Robert: Pure Land Mountain
- Shizuoka Gourmet
- Ten Thousand Things
- Tom: Kitchen Garden in Japan
Links I Like
- News: About Sweden in English
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- News: Deutche Welle
- News: FT Asia (UK, EU)
- News: Kyoto Journal (Japan)
- News: NHK World Society & Others (Japan)
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- News: The Local (Sweden)
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- NGOs/News: Organic Consumers Association (US)
- NGOs: Amnesty
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- NGOs: Greenpeace
- NGOs: Greenz.jp
- NGOs: Japan for Sustainability
- NGOs: Japan Organic Agriculture Association
- NGOs: Japan Vegetarian Society
- Shops: Alishan Organic Center
- Shops: Eco to Waza (GreenJapan)
- Shops: Warabe Mura
- Stuff: Japan Probe