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

6.4 Activities for Conservation and Restoration of Biological Diversity and Preparation of Social Assets

The population of Japan is about 125 millions, inhabiting an area of 370,000 km2. Japan's land is used for many purposes. Social assets are developed from the various viewpoints of national land maintenance, disaster prevention, transportation, agricultural infrastructure, housing, etc.

Projects for developing social assets entail certain level of alteration to nature. To prevent irreversible effect on biological diversity, it is important to implement them carefully by conducting surveys and studies in advance and taking proper measures to avoid or minimize adverse effect according to the properties and progress of the projects.

For large-scale projects that may have a significant impact on the environment, environmental impact assessments shall be carried out based on the Implementation Scheme for Environmental Impact Assessment (Cabinet decision) and individual laws and regulations. Efforts shall be made to continue to promote their proper applications. The procedure for environmental impact assessment based on the Environmental Impact Assessment Law adopted in June 1997 (to be enforced within 2 years by June 1999) will enter into force fully and include the conservation of biological diversity.

By providing guidance to organizations responsible for the development of social assets and infrastructure to conserve and restore biological diversity, development projects can be implemented with minimal adverse effect on biological diversity.

Specifically, organizations engaging in the development of roads can develop eco-roads by selecting routes that ensure the coexistence with nature, adopting road structure to avoid large alteration to the topography and vegetation, securing roads for animal movement, and developing alternative environment, etc. In the development of rivers, infertile nature-type river development shall be adopted, which includes preservation of torrents and deep pools, installation of fishways, preservation and creation of shore environment suitable for aquatic life, etc. In the development of fishing ports, "environmental coexistence ports (eco-ports)" is promoted, which entail the preservation of shallow seas, tidal flats, selection of shape and structure that exert less influence on tidal currents and water quality, removal of sludge, creation of shores, etc. In addition, "nature-harmonization oriented ports" are also developed, which include shore protection and the construction of shores where aquatic life can live and grow. These activities shall continue be promoted in the future.

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

Chapter 6. Guidelines for Implementation of Measures

6.5 Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity Components in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Because agriculture, forestry, and fisheries utilize biological resources from various ecosystems, they are closely related to the issue of biological diversity. In other words, biological resources utilized by agriculture, forestry, and fisheries constitute biological diversity. They are interrelated with each other within the ecosystem. Therefore, in using biological resources, it is necessary to promote sustainable agriculture, forestry, and fisheries while taking into consideration the conservation of biological diversity, including the ecosystems.

[Forestry]

In using the components of biological diversity in forests, it is important to maintain the diverse roles and functions provided by forests and to ensure the sustainable use of its components in the future. To realize this, it is important not only to conserve primeval forests but also to maintain biological diversity in other forests. Proper forest management in accordance with forest conditions is required for the conservation of biological diversity in forests and for the sustainable use of its components. It is essential to promote forestry production activities and to develop mountain villages, which are the foundation to these activities.

With the Japanese society placing more importance on quality of life and spiritual value today, people's demand for forests as an environmental asset has increased. In order to develop the multi-functions of forests fully and to assess the status of forests from a long-term perspective, forest management shall be carried out taking the features of biological diversity into consideration.

Based on the above understanding, the following priority measures for the sustainable use of forests have been implemented, while considering the conservation of biological diversity.

#Maintenance of Diverse Roles and Functions of Forests

The following systems shall be appropriately implemented: The Forest Plan System includes the "Basic Plan for Forest Resources," which provides guidance and supervision to long-term forestry operations; the Forest Protection System, which provides public benefits by conserving forests and promoting their functions; the Forest-Land Development Control System, which prevents disorderly development of private forests except protection forests.

The following activities shall be enhanced: provide training for personnel in charge of forestry production activities; conduct research to upgrade knowledge and technology concerning forests, forestry and wood industry; and carry out educational activities, such as classes for forestry, to enhance the public's understanding of forest functions.

#Conservation and Management of Forests

Efforts shall be made to promote the management of forest genetic resources and development of techniques such as breeding technology; implement forest conservation projects and forest management project corresponding to the forest status of each region; and undertake conservation measures to prevent forests from damages caused by diseases and insects, acid rain, etc.

#Promotion of Use of Forest Resources

To promote the use of forest resources and to reinvigorate rural mountain villages, efforts are made to conserve forests while promoting the comprehensive use of forest resources such as by improving the timber supply system, ensuring the effective use of timber, promoting by-products from forests, and promoting forests for its clean air and as a venue for communing between the local and urban residents, etc.

#Measures in National Forests

For the management of National Forests, appropriate forestry work shall be carried out in accordance with the categorized functions of forests to enhance the functions. To respond to the various demands on forests, efforts are made to promote natural forest management, implement artificial forest work appropriately, promote multi-storied forest management, carry out prolonged cutting management, and promote reforestation of the broad-leaved forests. Maintenance of healthy forest ecosystem and enhancement of the public beneficial functions are promoted through the protection forests by preventing damages to forests and providing forest communing areas for citizens.

[Agriculture]

Agriculture utilizes the natural material cycle and has multi-functions. They are national land, play an important role in environmental conservation, and provide stable food supply to the nation. One of the remarkable characteristics of agriculture in Japan is the long tradition of wetland paddy farming, together with its traditional culture, for over two thousands years, which was carried out under the severe conditions of temperate monsoon climate, heavy rainfall, and steep topography. Wetland paddy farming is regarded as a sustainable farming system that does not cause damages such as continuous cropping, salt accumulation, and soil erosion. Irrigation channels and agricultural ponds for wetland paddy farming system provide various types of habitats and contribute to the conservation of ecosystems under artificial management.

However, as a result of giving too much importance to productivity and economic efficiency, agricultural management lacking consideration for the ecosystems, e.g. excessive continuous cropping, inappropriate application of pesticide and fertilizer, inappropriate treatment of livestock wastes, has been practiced. In addition, while the secondary nature, such as arable lands and coppices, require continuous management to maintain their ecosystems, depopulation and aging of the rural population in some areas have made it difficult to maintain the capability for environmental protection.

Hence, given these situations, the following agricultural activities are promoted to maintain the capability for environmental conservation.

#Promotion of Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture is defined as a farming system that seeks reduction of environmental burden associated with agricultural activities, and utilizes the natural material cycle to maintain the productivity level. More specifically, it is intended to promote fanning methods based on review of threshold level for controlling plant diseases and pests by agricultural chemicals, appropriate use of chemical fertilizer, soil improvement, and recycling such as appropriate treatment and effective utilization of livestock wastes, etc.

For this purpose, various technologies including methods to save the use of agricultural chemicals are being developed and researched.

#Development of Sustainable Agriculture and Agricultural Villages

To preserve and restore the environmental conservation functions, which the farm villages originally have, agriculture and rural development are promoted with consideration to the conservation of environment. For instance, facilities for breeding animals and plants are built around irrigation ponds when developing agricultural channels and creating networks of biotopes (spaces for habitats) in order to conserve the natural ecosystems and landscape.

#Conservation and Use of Rural Environment

Green Tourism (a new type of vacation involving longer periods of stay in rural areas) is promoted to encourage urban dwellers to come to rural areas to enjoy scenic landscapes, traditional cultures, etc.

#Protection of Rare Wild Species Available for Commercial Propagation

For the conservation of species for commercial propagation use, it is effective to develop techniques of propagation, besides protecting their natural habitats. Therefore, activities for establishing propagation techniques are encouraged.

[Fisheries]

Japan is surrounded by seas and has productive fishing grounds close to its main islands. The fishing grounds, where both cold and warm currents meet, have fertile biological diversity. Japan has developed fisheries as an industry by accumulating experiences and sophisticated technology and keeping the environment of the fishing grounds in good condition.

Currently, Japanese obtained about 40% of their animal protein from aquatic products. Therefore, it is important to continue the effective utilization of fishery resources in the future. To that end, various international and domestic activities shall be carried out.

Fishery resources can reproduce naturally in large quantity. If they are properly and effectively utilized, the resources can be available in sustainable supply. Because protecting the environment of fishing ground also contributes to the conservation of the sea environment as well as the conservation of biological diversity in the sea, sound fisheries must be developed taking into consideration the conservation of fishing grounds.

To attain the sustainable use of these resources, the following activities are carried out.

#Sustainable Use and Conservation of International Marine Resources

Through international frameworks such as international fisheries management bodies and international treaties, the measures for resource management are implemented based on well-grounded scientific evidence. Understanding for these measures must be sought, together with proper management of fishery resources. Other measures including the promotion of scientific research such as the resource survey on marine resources, and the implementation of various regulations and restrictions for resource management shall be pursued. Furthermore, in line with the policy made by international organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and individual regional fishery management bodies, and the appropriate application of related international treaties such as the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the conservation and sustainable use of the components of marine ecosystems shall be pursued. Regarding the marine resources that are not the subject of fisheries, technology shall be developed and utilized to minimize their capture in order to protect these resources. With regard to whale resources, efforts shall be made to gain worldwide awareness of the principle of appropriate conservation and sustainable use of whale resources, based on scientific evidence derived from researches.

#Sustainable Use and Conservation of Domestic Aquatic Living Resources

Through appropriate application of "the Fisheries Law" and "Fisheries Resource Protection Law, "wild aquatic species are protected and managed through various regulations of resources management. The "resources management-oriented-fishery" is promoted to maintain and increase resources and to rationalize their use. Measures as the aqua culture and fish ranching are promoted, taking into account biological diversity. In addition, productivity can be enhanced by developing and improving fishing grounds while protecting and managing rare aquatic life.

#Conservation of Marine Environment

Efforts shall be made to protect the oceanic environment and secure good fishing grounds through measures such as the implementation of environmental impact assessment of coastal area developments, and the conservation and restoration of environment affected by the development projects. Also, fishing ports shall be developed with shore structures in harmony with the environment. The water quality in areas around the fishing ports shall be maintained by removing mud and sludge. Furthermore, support shall be given to activities that raise public awareness and clean seashore to tackle the environmental deterioration of shores caused by waste.

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

Chapter 6. Guidelines for Implementation of Measures

6.6 Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

Japan is blessed with various types of nature. Due to the frequent contact with nature, the Japanese people are traditionally known to be nature-loving. Today, the nation's interest in nature has further increased due to the maturity of the society as well as diversification in people's liking and taste.

Under such circumstances, various outdoor recreation and tourism activities in distinctive nature as well as ordinary ones have become popular in Japan. Among the various activities utilizing the components of biological diversity, the following activities are most popular in Japan.

Sustainable outdoor recreation and tourism activities that exert minimum impact on the environment while promoting contact with nature are quite valuable because they provide the opportunity for people to deepen their understanding of biological diversity.

On the other hand, some outdoor recreation and tourism activities accompanying large-scale development might cause decrease in biological diversity due to improper or excessive utilization.

Based on such understanding, Japan carried out the following measures to promote the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity in outdoor recreation and tourism activities.

#Measures for Contact with Nature in Natural Parks

The aims of Natural Parks are to protect the scenic beauty and to promote their use for people's health, recreation, and culture. A total of 970 million people visit National Parks per year.

In National Parks and Quasi-National Parks, recreational facilities such as hiking paths, camping and picnic sites are developed to enable the public to enjoy nature. Wooden boardwalks are built to prevent denudation of marshes from trampling and projects are carried out to restore denudated vegetation.

Under the scheme of the management of Natural Parks, driving off-road vehicles and private vehicles into designated zones are regulated to prevent scenic sites from over-use and to preserve the amenities of the sites. Furthermore, activities are carried out to stimulate visitors' interest in nature such as providing visitors the opportunity to be in contact with animals and plants, and to deepen understanding of the importance of biological diversity by providing explanation at exhibitions held in visitor centers and nature interpretation in the fields. To strengthen human resources to support these activities, the Natural Park Volunteer Leaders system is put in place and Park Volunteers are provided with education, training, and other supportive measures.

For areas with excellent and distinctive natural landscapes that are recognized as the core of each National and Quasi-National Parks, the "Green-Diamond Plan" is carried out. The plan strengthens measures for the conservation and restoration of nature, provides more detailed nature explanation and guidance for nature utilization, and provides spaces to facilitate nature learning. At major spots of National and Quasi-National Parks, Commune-with-Nature Schools or Eco-Museums where children can be in contact with wildlife and learn about nature have been established.

Facilities have also been developed to enhance contact with wildlife at nature sites other than the National and Quasi-National Parks, such as hills near villages and shores. A network of Long-Distance Nature Trails has been established nationwide to facilitate nature contact through walking.

#Measures for Farm Regions and Forests

Green tourism has been actively promoted in rural areas. It is a new type of vacation that involves longer period of stay in rural areas to enable vacationers to enjoy natural beauty, appreciate local culture, and commune with local residents. To utilize forest spaces comprehensively including the promotion of health, culture, and education, sites are developed in forests as bases for exchange activities between cities and rural villages through forest and forestry experiences. In addition, the Forest Instructor System was launched nationwide, providing information on forests and forestry to the public, guidance for utilizing forests, and instructions for outdoor activities..

#Measures for Urban Areas

Parks in urban areas play a key role in providing the venue for outdoor recreation activities. Therefore, parks are improved to secure habitats for wildlife and to provide fields for environmental education. Allotment gardens are developed to enable city dwellers to experience farming activities.

#Measures for Rivers

In accordance with the river environment management plan, the public is informed of the proper way to use areas that have been zoned as having high needs for conservation of the natural environment, areas serving as venues for recreation, and the policy for developing them. Projects are implemented to develop rivers to form shores where various kinds of wildlife can inhabit and to provide local people the opportunity to be in contact with nature. Sand controls projects are implemented at slopes denudated by torrents by taking into account the maintenance and creation of environment and landscape utilizing the torrents. For dammed lakes, measures are taken to utilize dam space and to construct water-friendly shore protection and promenades.

#Measures for Coastal Areas

Because the coastal areas are used for recreational purposes such as swimming, fishing, and shell gathering, conservation of the seashore environment, i.e. establishment of seashore preservation facilities for preventing the erosion of sandy beaches and maintenance and restoration of sandy beaches, shall be promoted taking into account the utilization of seashore, ecosystems, and landscapes.

When fishing ports and harbors are developed, fishing parks, greenery, and marinas shall be developed at the same time to provide citizens the venue to come in contact with nature.

On the other hand, public awareness activities are promoted in order to tackle the problems of birds being caught by fishing lines and hooks left at fishing grounds or by waste dumped from fishing boats.

From the standpoint of tourism policy, tourism infrastructure, such as family auto camping sites, shall be developed to enable people to come in contact with nature.


Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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