Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 13

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21


A) Generating and Strengthening Knowledge about the Ecology and Sustainable Development of Mountain Ecosystems

A great portion of the land of Japan consists of mountains, much of which is covered by forests. Japan has a rugged and steep terrain, receives an abundance of rainfall throughout the year, and, in accordance with diverse climatic conditions, has abundant and varying vegetation, and a large number of species of wildlife.

In these mountain areas, ecosystems have been conserved within the natural cycles, while regional economic activities have centered on agriculture and forestry, leading to the uninterrupted management of the national land. Japan will continue to conduct the following activities, keeping in line with the direction of Agenda 21.

Sustainable development of mountain areas
The appropriate application of forest planning and protected forest systems

Mountain areas play an important rolein the conservation of the national land, the cultivation of water resources, and the conservation of the natural environment. In order to highlight the roles of mountain areas while maintaining harmony with their function of timber production through the appropriate management of forests, Japan will promote comprehensive and well-planned management of forests, based on a system of forest planning, giving due consideration to the natural characteristics of mountain areas.

Designating forests that are particularly beneficial to the public as protected forests, Japan has been regulating forest operations in order to maintain and improve such forest functions as headwaters conservation, soil run-off prevention, and contribution to public health. In order to achieve these set purposes and improve related systems, Japan will make improvements to forests which do not sufficiently fulfill their functions, by means of erosion control and watershed management work, reforestation work and work on forest roads. Also, regarding private forests that are not protected forests, a forest development permission system requiring approval from prefectural governors is obligatory for development of forest land which exceeds a certain scale. Similarly in national forests, by means of certain treatment in compliance to this system, chaotic forest development has been stopped, and Japan will continue to make efforts to appropriately apply this system.

Improving the basis for production and living environments in mountainous forest areas

As mountainous forest areas under the above-mentioned forest management have been slow to improve their industrial infrastructures and living environments compared to other regions, Japan will promote agriculture and forestry, as well as improve production infrastructures such as forest roads in these areas. Japan will also promote the improvement of living environments, through such means as waterworks and sewage facilities in mountainous areas which are lagging behind in the development of such facilities. Also, from the perspective of versatile utilization of regional resources, in addition to fostering regional specialties, Japan will aim at creating forest spaces where health-related, cultural and educational activities can be appropriately conducted, while giving due consideration to the conservation of natural environment and the national land.

Utilization of mountain areas, giving due consideration to their conservation of ecosystems

As far as the use of natural parks is concerned, Japan will study the adoption of eco-tourism, which conserves ecosystems while promoting a positive economic spillover to regional communities in natural parks, giving due consideration to the conservation of the superb ecosystems in mountain areasby promoting a plan for the appropriate use of these parks. . Furthermore, giving due consideration to the conservation of forest ecosystems, Japan will establish recreational forests within national forests, and promote improvement in these forests in order to provide the general public with places to contribute to the recuperation of health.

As regards developmental activities such as the construction of roads in mountain areas, Japan will establish methods, e.g. to construct "eco-roads," which allow for harmony with the environment, from the planning and research to the design and construction, and will give detailed consideration to ecosystems in such activities. It will appropriately conduct environmental impact assessment for developmental activities exceeding a certain scale, based on guidelines decided by the Cabinet, for conserving precious wild fauna and flora and maintaining harmony with the natural environment.

Conserving ecosystems in mountain areas

Mountain areas with superb natural environmental conditions and mountain areas with beautiful natural scenery are designated as nature conservation areas, natural parks or as other protected areas. Japan will conserve areas with superb ecosystems and areas where precious wildlife species breed and live by reviewing the spheres of these protected areas and the plans for their protection. It will also make efforts to conserve the superb ecosystems of mountain areas through the appropriate management of such projects as those for the restoration of vegetation in already existing protected areas.

Because of the fact that in national forests, mainly in mountain ranges, there are many natural forests which are important from the standpoint of scientific research, the conservation of animal and plant life, the maintenance of genetic resources, and the conservation of scenic beauty, Japan will strictly maintain forest ecosystems and manage and protect precious fauna and flora by creating such Forest Reserves as Forest Ecosystem Reserves and Specific Animals Habitat Reserves in primeval natural forests and areas where various species of fauna and flora live and breed. It will also promote undertakings to contribute to the conservation and management of rare species of wild fauna and flora.

Increasing public awareness in regards to the conservation and sustainable development of ecosystems in mountain areas

In order to further increase public awareness of the role and importance of forests and forestry, Japan will hold forest classes and conduct activities to give people the opportunity to actually engage in forestry, enhancing public awareness, including that of youth, of the functions of forests, the role of forestry, and the importance of forest conservation.

Also, by actively promoting activities for the interpretation of nature in natural parks, Japan will further the understanding of conservation of the natural environment and the role of the general public in nature conservation.

Conducting surveys and research on ecosystems in mountain areas

Continuously conducting basic surveys and research for the conservation of the natural environment in mountain areas, and clarifying the species of animal and plant life which live in mountain areas, Japan collects and accumulates data for the purpose ofmanaging mountain ecosystems and gaining an understanding of the distribution of these species. It will also promote surveys, experimentation and research for the proper conservation of precious ecosystems, as well as surveys of the actual conditions of regions that are in danger of disaster peculiar to mountainous regions, such as places that are faced with the danger of avalanches.

Promoting international cooperation

Giving sufficient consideration to the economic and social development of mountainous regions, Japan will promote international cooperation in regards to the conservation and management of ecosystems in these areas.

13-B) Promoting Integrated Watershed Development and Alternative Livelihood Opportunities

Taking into account the fact that rivers are vital habitats for aquatic organisms, as well as the fact that watersheds are important as places containing diverse ecosystems and as habitats for a variety of species of wild fauna and flora, Japan will promote comprehensive measures for flood control, water-utilization, and related efforts, while emphasizing forest and habitat conservation and management for fish and other aquatic organisms.

Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

In order to conserve precious ecosystems and species of wild fauna and flora which are found in rivers and watersheds, Japan will provide information regarding the natural environment, covering the living conditions of animal and plant life in rivers, the conditions of the use of rivers, and the state of watersheds where primeval forms of nature still remain.
In addition to conserving river and upper-watershed areas which have superb ecosystemsthrough the review of spheres of protected areas, including nature conservation areas, national parks and quasi national parks, and the review of conservation plans regarding such areas, Japan will make efforts to conserve the superb ecosystems of watersheds in established protected areas by means of appropriate management.

Japan will also make efforts to conserve water quality by reducing the burden exerted by pollution flow into rivers through improvement of sewage facilities, including advanced wastewater treatment and regulation of effluents.

Furthermore, by formulating "Master Plans for River Environment Management", and creating "nature zones" which should be conserved in accordance with the characteristics of individual rivers, Japan will conduct the management of rivers in a manner suitable to these natural zones.
Japan will promote the appropriate management of forests, which occupy a large portion of the watersheds in Japan, mainly by devising long-term plans for individual watersheds.

Japan will maintain and enhance the functions of forests designated for the conservation of the national land, including protecting them against the erosion of earth and sand in national forest areas, and maintaining their natural environment through appropriate management.
Based on the 8th 5-Year Forest Conservation Project and River Improvement Program, Japan will work to prevent soil erosion by erosion control and sabo works, by growing trees in order to prevent the erosion of earth and sand, and through floor-control and erosion-control work in protection forests, landslide threatened areas, and sabo designated areas. Japan will install rain gauges and debris flow sensors, and will use these devices for the improvement of the evacuation system for people living in these regions.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan