Nature & Parks

State of Japan's Environment at a Glance: Wilderness Areas and Nature Conservation Areas

1. Categories

Minami-Iwojima Wilderness Area
Minami-Iwojima Wilderness Area

Onnebetsudake Wilderness Area
Onnebetsudake Wilderness Area

The Nature Conservation Law, the basic framework for nature conservation, protects and manages natural resources and natural ecosystems aided by other related laws.

The Nature Conservation Law makes provisions for the establishment of the following areas

  • Wilderness Areas are areas that preserve and maintain the original ecosystem and that are free of human influence.
  • Nature Conservation Areas are natural areas that preserve and maintain the following natural ecosystems.
    • (a)Alpine and sub alpine vegetation
    • (b)Outstanding natural forests
    • (c)Exemplary landforms, geological sites, and natural phenomena
    • (d)Rivers, lakes, marshes, and sea coasts with valuable wildlife
    • (e)Marine areas with valuable wildlife
    • (f)Plant and wildlife habitat that maintain a good, natural environment comparable to (a)-(e)
  • Prefectural Nature
    Conservation Areas are areas other than marine areas that preserve and maintain valuable natural environment at the prefectural level .

2. Designation

The Minister of the Environment designates Wilderness Areas and Nature Conservation Areas after conferring with related governmental agencies and consulting with the Nature Conservation Council. Prefectural Governors designate Prefectural Nature Conservation Areas.

Wilderness Areas and Nature Conservation Areas (As of March 31,2000)

[Item]

NumberArea (ha)
Wilderness Area 5 5,631
Nature Conservation Area 10 21,593
Prefectural Nature Conservation Area 528 73,863

3. Zoning for Ecosystem Protection

4. Scientific Survey

Scientific Survey (Sakiyamawan Nature Conservation)
Scientific Survey
(Sakiyamawan Nature Conservation Area)

Since 1980, the Ministry of the Environment has undertaken comprehensive scientific surveys at each site to ensure the strict protection and management of designated areas and to increase public awareness on nature conservation.

A team of Japanese top scientists organized by the Ministry of the Environment extensively surveys each Wilderness Area and Nature Conservation Area. This extensive survey in Minami-Iwojima led to the identification of new species and species previously thought extinct.

Wilderness Area (Total : 5 areas 5,631 ha.)

DistrictPrefectureArea (ha)Land OwnershipData of DesignationFeatures of Natural EnvironmentRemarks
Onnebetsudake Hokkaido 1,895 National forest Feb. 4, 1980 Alpine vegetation mainly composed of creeping pines No Entry Restricted Zones
Head of River Tokachi Hokkaido 1,035 National forest Dec. 28, 1977 Virgin forest of silver fir and fir tree No Entry Restricted Zones
Head of River Ooi Shizuoka 1,115 National forest Mar. 22, 1976 Temperate zone conifer forest and subarctic zone conifer forest No Entry Restricted Zones
Minami Iwojima (Island) Tokyo 367 National Forest May 17, 1975 Tropical and subtropical vegetation, geographical features eroded by the tide, sea birds All areas designated as Entry Restricted Zones (on June 24, 1983)
Yakushima (Island) Kagoshima 1,219 National forest May 17, 1975 Temperate zone evergreen broadleaved forest mainly composed of natural cedar and pasania No Entry Restricted Zones

As of February 1, 1992

Nature Conservation Area (Total : 10 areas 21,593 ha.)

DistrictPrefectureArea (ha)Land OwnershipData of DesignationFeatures of Natural EnvironmentRemarks
Ohirayama Hokkaido 674 National forest Dec. 28, 1977 Natural forest of beech trees (Fagus crenata) located near to the northern border, limestone rock vegetation. All areas designated as Special Zones and Wildlife Protection Zones.
Shirakami sanchi Aomori, Akita 14,043 National forest Oct 7 , 1992 The largest natural beech forest in Japan, valuable flora and fauna, e.g., Black woodpecker Some areas designated as Special Zones and Wildlife Protection Zones, all areas designated as Special Zones and Wildlife Protection Zones.
Hayachine Iwate 1,370 National forest May 17, 1975 Alpine and subalpine vegetation, characteristic vegetation of the Serpentine mountain area, vertical distribution of vegetation from a beech tree zone to an alpine zone. All areas designated as Special Zones. Some Special Zones also designated as Wildlife Protection Zones.
Wagadake Iwate 1,451 National forest May 21, 1981 Beech tree forest, natural forest of "mountain recess oak" (Qleerdus monolica ver.), creeping pine forest, permanent snowfield vegetation. All areas designated as Special Zones and Wildlife Protection Zones.
0sabiyama Tochigi 545 National forest May. 16, 1981 Alpine and subalpine vegetation, natural beech forest. All areas designated as Special Zones.
Head of River Tone Gunma 2,318 National forest Dec. 28, 1977 Alpine low tree forest, beech trees, natural forest of Quereus mongolica var., permanent snowfield vegetation, vegetation characteristic of a snowbridge zone All areas designated as Special Zones and Wildlife Protection Zones.
Sasagamine Ehime,Kochi 537 National forest and private forest Mar. 31, 1982 Beech tree forest, "Shikoku Shirabe" (evergreen conifer belonging to the pine species) All areas designated as Special Zones, some designated as Wildlife Protection Zones.
Shiragadake Kumamoto 150 National forest Mar. 21, 1980 Natural beech forest located close to the limit of southern distribution. All areas designated as Special Zones.
Inaodake Kagoshima 377 National forest May 17, 1975 Evergreen broad-leaved forest mainly composed of witch-hazels and "Urajiro oaks" (a species of beech tree) All areas designated as Special Zones.
Sakiyamawan Amitoriwan
(Bay)
Okinawa 1077 Sea Surface May 28, 1983 Large groups of "Azami" coral, coral reef All areas designated as Marine Special Zones.

as of March 31, 2016>

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