Nature & Parks

The First National Report - Chapter 6

[International Cooperation] The First National Report under The Convention on Biological Diversity

Chapter 6. Guidelines for Implementation of Measures

Part 3 of the National Strategy describes the basic directions for respective governmental organizations for implementing major measures relating to the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components in future.

The outline of the directions and relevant activities relating to the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components in Japan is as follows:

Chapter 6. Guidelines for Implementation of Measures

6.1 Establishment and Management of Protected Areas

The basis for the conservation of biological diversity is in-situ conservation, which is the conservation of wildlife in their natural habitats. The primary measure for conservation is to designate their natural habitats as protected areas. In Japan, based on various laws and regulations relating to conservation of the natural environment, various protected areas are designated for particular purposes, and development activities are regulated, as shown below.

The protected areas will be managed from the viewpoint of conserving biological diversity, taking into account the correlation among protected areas, such as the continuity of habitats for wild animals.

Some protected areas in Japan do not have sufficient areas for conserving their ecosystems. At the same time, large-scale development in areas surrounding protected ecosystems such as marshland (areas at mainly the upper reaches) may have significant impact. Therefore, when developing properties that may have influence on the protected areas nearby, it is necessary to carry out development activities properly with the understanding and cooperation of the people concerned.

The status of major protected areas and future directions of related policies are shown below.

# Wilderness Areas and Nature Conservation Areas Based on the Nature Conservation Law

The Law designates areas that have excellent natural environment such as intact nature, alpine vegetation, or valuable natural forests. In the designated areas, activities such as the construction of structures or cutting of trees are strictly restricted. 5 Wilderness Areas and 10 Nature Conservation Areas have been designated at the national level, totaling about 27,200 ha. At the prefectural level, the Prefectural Nature Conservation Areas are designated based on prefectural ordinances. As of March 1997, 517 sites, about 73,500 ha, have been designated.

Studies will be conducted continuously to designate protected areas in order to secure the diversity of ecosystems nationwide.

#National Parks, Quasi-National Parks Based on the Natural Parks Law

The Law designates excellent natural landscapes representative of Japan or are close to such level in order to preserve the landscapes and promote their use. In those areas, wildlife and their habitats are treated as elements of the natural landscape. For their protection, various activities such as the construction of structures or cutting of trees are restricted. At present, 28 National Parks and 55 Quasi-National Parks have been designated and the total area is about 3,390,000 ha. Prefectural Natural Parks are also designated under prefectural ordinances (as of March 1997)

Natural Parks, consisting of the National and Quasi-National Parks and Prefectural Natural Parks, are diverse. They include various ecosystems from subarctic to subtropical zones and from the alpine zone to mangrove forests and coral reefs, which characterize each park. The Natural Parks cover 14.1% of the national land area.

Reviews of the National and Quasi-National Parks are conducted periodically to assess the park areas and park plans and to conserve biological diversity. Utilization of these parks is promoted through the construction of facilities or provision of information on activities to experience nature.

# Natural Habitat Conservation Areas Based on the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

In order to protect nationally designated endangered species, the habitats of native species are designated. In these areas, activities such as the construction of structures or cutting of trees are restricted. As of March 1997, 5 areas, totaling about 260 ha, have been designated as the habitats of 4 species.

Establishment of Natural Habitat Conservation Areas will continue be promoted in the future to protect species that are in danger of extinction by taking into account their coexistence with agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The protection of these species shall be promoted at the same time.

# Wildlife Protection Areas Based on the Law for the Protection of Birds and Mammals and Hunting

The Wildlife Protection Areas are designated to protect birds and mammals (with some exceptions) including such areas as Habitat for Forest Birds and Mammals, Habitat for Large-scale Frocks of Migratory Birds, and Birds Breeding Habitat. In these areas, capturing and hunting are prohibited. In the Special Protection Zones designated within these areas, activities such as the construction of structures or cutting of trees are also restricted. The total area of National Wildlife Protection Areas is about 484,000 ha and, within these areas, the area of Special Protection Zones is about 112,000 ha. The total area of Prefectural Wildlife Protection Areas is about 2,923,000 ha and, within these areas, the area of Special Protection Zones is about 145,000 ha (as of March 1997)

Establishment of Wildlife Protection Areas will continue be promoted in the future. In establishing such areas, efforts shall be made to ensure appropriate distribution taking into account the mobility of migratory birds and the maintenance of habitats for various types of birds and mammals.

# Natural Monuments Based on the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties

The Law aims at preserving nature with high scientific value, commemorating the rich diversity in nature, and contributing to cultural developments. There are 959 designated items, with designated areas of about 370,000 ha (as of September 1997) .

As for natural monuments, the conservation of habitats through protection management is carried out. Designation of new items and implementation of appropriate protection management shall be carried out in the future by taking a comprehensive approach to conserve species in Japan.

# Nature Conservation Forests Based on the Categorization of Forest Functions in National Forests

National Forests, which cover about 30% of the total forest area, are categorized into four types by their principal functions; namely, Land Conservation Forest, Nature Conservation Forest, Recreation and Welfare Forest, and Timber Production Forest. These forests are managed according to their functions. For example, management of the Nature Conservation Forest gives priority to the conservation of natural environment, that is, no forestry work is carried out. About 19% of the total national forests, in areas totaling 1,410,000 ha, are designated as Nature Conservation Forest (as of April 1997) .

# Protected Forests

Among the Nature Conservation Forests mentioned above, those that have especially important role in the protection of natural environment are designated as Protected Forests in accordance with the National Forest Management Bylaw and the Guidelines for Establishing Protected Forests. Intensive efforts are made to conserve their natural environment. Protected Forests are classified into seven categories in accordance with the objectives of protection, e.g., Forest Biosphere Reserve, Forest Genetic Resource Reserve, etc. A total area of 490,000 ha has been designated (as of April 1997). Establishment of Protected Forests will continue be promoted in the future.

# Protected Waters Based on the Fishery Resources Protection Law

Aquatic areas suitable for the breeding and nurturing of fishes, etc. are designated as Protected Waters. As of April 1997, 2,200 km of rivers, 240 ha of lakes, and 3,000 ha of sea surface have been designated.

The designation of aquatic areas as Protected Waters will be continued in order to protect and cultivate fishery resources and plants.

# Protected Areas Registered or Authorized in Accordance with International Treaties or Other International Measures

World Heritage (Natural Heritage)
Shiragami-sanchi and Yakushima are registered at the World Heritage List. The area totals 28,000 ha (as of April 1997) .

Wetlands Registered in the Ramsar List of the Ramsar Convention Ten areas, such as Kushiro-shitsugen, Izu-numa and Uchinuma, and Biwa-ko have been registered. The total area is about 83,500 ha (as of April 1997) .

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves
Four areas of Yakushima, Oodaigahara and Mt. Oomine, Mt. Hakusan and Shiga Highland have been designated as Biosphere Reserves. The total area is about 116,000 ha (as of April 1997) .

The conservation of wildlife habitats in the above-mentioned areas is carried out in connection with various systems for protected areas such as Nature Conservation Areas, National Parks, National Wildlife Protection Areas, Protected Forests, and Natural Monuments.

[International Cooperation] The First National Report under The Convention on Biological Diversity

Chapter 6. Guidelines for Implementation of Measures

6.2 Conservation of Biological Diversity Suitable to the Characteristics of National Land Space

Every effort must be made to protect the ecosystems and habitats throughout the nation for the conservation of biological diversity. In addition to designating protected areas, it is also important to carry out other conservation measures for the ecosystems and natural habitats that match the characteristics of their land space.

From this viewpoint, development projects and industrial activities must take into consideration the conservation of biological diversity at each stage of planning and implementation.

By assessing various ecosystems and habitats from the viewpoint of conserving biological diversity and making the assessment results available to the public, the biological diversity of these ecosystems and habitats can be better protected.

Besides the natural environment, secondary natural environment, such as secondary forests, paddies and fields, etc., characterizes the nature setting in Japan. Secondary natural environment is brought about by the relationship between humans and nature. It accounts for about 75% of the whole vegetation in Japan. The secondary natural environment is made up of a variety of habitats such as wetland paddies, irrigation channels, coppices, and irrigation ponds. They have played an important role in diversifying biota by providing various types of habitats to animals and plants relying on these environments.

However, the secondary natural environment is gradually disappearing owing to the development of golf courses and residential land in the vicinities of urban areas. The diverse environment provided by coppices is disappearing due to the change in farming practices among others. As a result, many species that used to be commonly seen, such as giant water bugs (Lethocelus deyrollei) and pasqueflowers (Pulsatilla cernua), have decreased sharply in number nationwide and become rare species.

In order to promote the conservation of biological diversity in Japan, it is important to preserve the secondary nature properly by taking into account the natural and social properties of the regions.

Since the population of Japan is concentrated in urban areas, it is also important to conserve biological diversity in the urban areas, where the habitats of wildlife, such as green areas and waterfronts, have been decreasing and becoming fragmented. Efforts shall be made to conserve the remaining nature, to create habitats, and to coordinate them into ecological network.

Based on the above understanding, the Japanese government takes initiatives to protect major types of ecosystem as follows:

[Forests]

Forests are terrestrial ecosystems important as habitats for wildlife. They also supply nourishment to aquatic life in coastal areas.

To meet the various demands on forests as an environmental asset, it is important to manage the diverse and rich forest environment properly while paying attention to their ecosystems.

The conservation of forests important for maintaining biological diversity is proceeding under various systems for protected areas. In addition, forests necessary for the protection of precious animals and plants are designated and appropriate forestry operations are implemented to protect forests under the Regional Forest Plans based on the Forest Law. In particular, forests that have great public benefit are designated as Protection Forests based on the Forest Protection System, which covers about one third of the whole forest areas. Various regulations are being formulated to enhance such functions. Furthermore, the Forest-Land Development Control System works to prevent disorderly development of other forests.

Appropriate forestry operations shall be carried out in National Forests taking into account the maintenance and formation of natural environment. Monitoring and patrol are carried out to find out the status to better protect the ecosystems and habitats of wildlife.

Artificial forests, especially secondary forests formed by natural restoration and have rich ecosystems with various species of trees, shall be conserved and maintained according to their status.

[Wetlands]

Wetlands, such as lakes, marshes, and tidal flats, form the unique ecosystem where various animals and plants, especially water birds, live. In Japan, however, most of these wetlands are located near residential areas. Therefore, wetland conservation places high priority on the protection and management of biological diversity because wetlands are easily affected by human activities.

Establishment of more protected areas have been proposed as a countermeasure to maintain the ecosystem of wetlands. Furthermore, internationally important wetlands are registered with the Ramsar List of the Ramsar Convention while appropriate management of the wetlands is being studied.

[Rivers]

Rivers are habitats for various aquatic lives, vegetation such as ditch reeds and willows, and small animals such as insects, which depend on the vegetation. Thus, rivers enrich regional biota.

The following measures have been taken to protect the habitats: periodical and systematic surveys of the living and growing status of animals and plants; formulation of basic plans for conservation; preparation and management of river environment such as zoning of precious nature; and promotion of river formation, such as the preservation and restoration of deep pools, by taking into account the structural variety of natural rivers and the various existing river environments.

Projects are carried out at dammed lakes to restore biotope and fishways to maintain good habitat for wildlife. Other projects are also carried out to restore the ecosystems at denuded torrents, create breeding places and habitats for fishes, and build fishways.

The "Preparation and Conservation of River Environment" was included as an additional purpose of the River Act (amended in July 1997), stipulating the implementation of river projects for harmonization with the environment.

[Coastal Areas]

The shores and shallow seas among the coastal areas are the environment where biological productions are active, especially at tidal flats, seaweed beds, and coral reefs where various animals and plants such as benthos and fishes are living and breeding. The tidal flats and shores are important for snipes, plovers, etc. They also perform the important function of water purification.

There are many artificial alterations such as reclamation made to the seashores in Japan, making it necessary to properly preserve ecosystems and habitats such as tidal flats and shores, etc. At the coastal areas where artificial alterations have been made, it is important to restore the environment to make it habitable for various wildlife.

Therefore, when planning fishing ports and harbors, various activities useful for the conservation of coastal ecosystems shall be carried out, such as securing the exchange and purification functions of sea water, protecting the habitats of marine wildlife, and preserving seaweed beds, tidal flats, etc. For harbors, measures shall be carried out to create a suitable coastal environment such as the development of a harbor environment plan, dredging of sludge, sand turning, and construction of artificial shores.

[Secondary Natural Environments in Rural Areas]

The traditional rural areas of Japan are made up of a variety of environments such as residential forests, hedges, irrigation channels and ponds, providing various types of habitats. Wetland paddies, in particular, provide valuable habitats for some migratory birds and various aquatic lives.

Based on this understanding, agricultural facilities shall be established, maintained, and managed with consideration to the conservation of the ecosystems and habitats of rare wild animals and plants at the facilities. Projects shall be carried out to conserve biotopes for wildlife, such as irrigation ponds. Sustainable agriculture, which minimizes the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, shall be promoted.

[Urban Areas]

In urban areas where the natural environment has diminished, it is necessary to conserve and restore biological diversity by conserving green spaces, establishing habitats for wildlife (biotopes), and coordinating them into ecological network.

For this purpose, green spaces forming a good natural environment in urban areas shall be conserved as they are, by designating them as Conservation Area of Urban Green Space or as Special Suburban Green Zone Conservation Area based on laws and regulations such as the Urban Green Space Conservation Law. About 3,900 ha of such areas have been designated throughout Japan (as of March 1997). Urban parks are the primary facility as permanent green space in the urban area. Efforts shall be made to establish urban forests to preserve forests in urban areas, and parks for securing habitats for wildlife and providing the venue for environmental education. Improvement to rivers, channels, parks, and green spaces in urban areas shall be carried out aiming at the establishment of an ecological network.

Municipalities nationwide have formulated master plans for the conservation and establishment of green spaces in order to promote these activities comprehensively.

[International Cooperation] The First National Report under The Convention on Biological Diversity

Chapter 6. Guidelines for Implementation of Measures

6.3 Protection and Management of Wildlife in Japan

The Japanese archipelago is located at the eastern end of the Asian Continent. It has a wide range of wildlife species despite of its relatively narrow national land, because the island chain has been repeatedly connected to and separated from the continent since the Pleistocene. Its topography and climates are also widely varied.

However, many wildlife species have become in danger of extinction due to loss or degradation of habitats and over-exploitation by the nation's development especially after World War II. Therefore, it has become an urgent task to protect the threatened wildlife species in Japan.

In order to maintain biological diversity in Japan, comprehensive protection measures for various wildlife including not only threatened species but also common species shall be carried out in each region of the country.

With this understanding, Japan has carried out the following measures for wildlife protection.

#Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Based on the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 53 species, such as Iriomote wild cat, Japanese crested ibis, Chortled albatrosse, Miyako bitterling, Bekkou dragonfly, Rebun lady-slippers, have been designated as national endangered species of wild fauna and flora (as of September 1997) and the hunting, transfer and the like of these species are restricted. Their habitats have been designated as Natural Habitat Conservation Areas to protect their environment.

Furthermore, the Programmes for Rehabilitation of Natural Habitats and Maintenance of Viable populations are drawn up to promote the maintenance and improvement of the habitats and breeding of these species. To date, programmes for such wildlife as lriomote wildcat, Japanese crested ibis, Japanese crane, Short-tailed albatrosses, and Blakistons fish-owls, have been formulated. Under these programmes, feeding, installation of nest boxes, introduction to new nesting places, and breeding, are carried out.

Species recognized as under the threat of extinction due to deterioration of habitat will continue to be protected by being designated as National Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora under the Law for the Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

#Protection and Management of Birds and Mammals

Mammals and birds living in Japan, except some mammals, are protected under the Law for the Protection of Birds and Mammals and Hunting. The Law permits the hunting of only 47 species. Hunting is further regulated by restrictions such as the season (hunting season), place (prohibition of hunting at Wildlife Protection Areas and Restoration Areas), authorization (hunting license), etc. Birds and mammals are protected by these regulations.

Areas important as the habitats of birds and mammals within the Wildlife Protection Areas are preserved by being designated as the Special Protection Zones where activities such as development are restricted. The establishment of Wildlife Protection Areas shall continue be promoted in the future, taking into account the appropriate distribution of migratory birds based on their mobility, securing various kinds of birds and mammals, and protecting various types of biotic communities.

On the other hand, damages by deer, monkeys, etc. to agriculture and forestry are spreading in the rural areas. Under these circumstances, it has become an important issue to manage wild birds and mammals to ensure the coexistence between humankind and wild birds and mammals. Comprehensive surveys shall be carried out to find out the living conditions, design measures for preventing damages, restore habitats, and control population by hunting, etc.

#Wildlife Protection by Natural Monument System

For academic purpose, valuable wildlife such as endemic species of Japan has been designated as natural monuments based on the Cultural Assets Protection Law. The subjects for designation include animals, various types of vegetation, and ecosystems, of which hunting and the change of status, such as alteration to habitats, are restricted.

To protect and manage precious animals and plants and their habitats, projects are carried out to preserve their environments, raise public awareness, draw up project plans for their protection and breeding, and implement other measures to preserve the public assets of designated areas, etc.

#Wildlife Protection in National Forest

Conservation of natural habitats and maintenance of viable population of wildlife are promoted through the proper management of Nature Conservation Forests and Protected Forests in the National Forests. Especially for endangered wild species designated under the Law for Conservation of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, projects such as patrols are carried out to protect individuals, as well as to maintain and establish habitats.

#Protection and Management of Wild Aquatic Life

Based on the Fisheries Law and the Fishery Resources Protection Law, the protection and management of wild aquatic life are implemented and the sustainable use of fisheries resources are pursued.

Based on the results of various surveys of wild aquatic life, species whose populations have significantly decreased or whose existence is threatened are listed in the Data Book. The habitats of fishery resources and plants that have remarkably deteriorated in terms of their status as resources, are designated as Protection Water Surfaces by the national and local governments to protect and enhance the resources through regulation, etc. At the same time, control measures are implemented according to the extent of deterioration, including restriction or prohibition of harvesting and/or sales, etc.

#Measures Taken Against the Influence of Alien Species

The immigration of animals and plants from abroad or from other regions of Japan causes decrease in biological diversity due to disturbance to the ecosystems as a result of predation of native species, occupation of habitats, or hybridization with native species. In Japan, the immigration of freshwater fish and pressure on pure line by hybridization have caused disturbance to the fish biota in lakes. Isolated islands bearing many native species, in particular, are threatened by immigrated small mammal species. The protection of rare native species, such as the on-ground types small animals, is challenged.

At Amami Oshima where many native species exist, a project to study methods for exterminating and controlling immigrated mongoose is carried out. The capturing and extermination of large mouse bass, which are threatening Miyako bitterling, are implemented as a part of the protection and breeding project.

Some prefectures take measures to restrict the immigration of foreign fish in accordance with the regulation of inland water fisheries. In particular, activities to raise the awareness of fishermen against illegal release of black bass (including large mouth bass, small mouth bass, etc.) are carried out and a cooperative system is enforced.


Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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