Nature & Parks

[Outline of the Heritage Area] Shirakami-sanchi World Heritage Area Management Plan

[Cultural and Historical Heritage] Shirakami-sannchi World Heritage Area Management Plan

2.Outline of the Heritage Area

Shirakami-sanchi is a general name for the mountainous area extending from 100 to 1,200 meters above sea level and straddling the prefectural border between southwest Aomori and northeast Akita Prefectures. The basic geology consists of mainly granite-type rocks formed during the Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Era, and sedimentary and intrusive rocks that date from the mid-new era of the third new period of the Cenozoic Era.

The geography shows full maturity with deep, densely interlaced valleys. Over half the Heritage Area is covered with steep slopes over 30 degrees.
The Japanese beech (Fagus crenata) forest in this area supports coexisting diverse plant communities and abundant animal groups. This region therefore presents a museum-like landscape of forest consisting mainly of indigenous Japanese beech trees.

The Heritage Area is located in the center of Shirakami-sanchi, far from urban areas, and with its steep slopes few trees have never been felled in the forest. A small number of local people have traditional used the forest for activities such as collecting edible wild plants, but these activities have had minimal impact. This minimal use has blessed the Heritage Areas with wild Japanese beech forests virtually unaffected by human activities.

Although some rivers are dammed, many river features within the Heritage Area have been well preserved.
The history of conservation in this area is relatively new.

The first clear systematic conservation measures in this area were implemented with the establishment of a Forest Ecosystem Reserve in 1990 and with the designation of a Nature Conservation Area in 1992.

The outline of the Heritage Area is as follows.

(1) Location

The Heritage Area is located in a mountainous area that straddles the prefectural border between southwest Aomori and northeast Akita prefectures. It ,stretches from 40? 22′North to 40? 32′North , and 140? 2′East and 140? 12′East and ,ranges from 300 to 1,243 meters above sea level over Mukai-Shirakami-dake.
The following towns and villages are located in this area: Aigasawa-machi, Fukaura-machi, and Iwasaki-mura in Nishi-Tsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture,; and Nishimeya-mura, Naka-Tsugaru-gun, Aomori Prefecture; and Fujisato-machi, Yamamoto-gun, Akita Prefecture.

(2) Area

The Heritage Area covers 16,971 hectares. The entire area is a national forest under the jurisdiction of the Forestry Agency.

(3) Flora

In the Heritage Area, primeval Japanese beech forests remain the climax species in the temperate zones. Over 500 different plant species have been identified in the forests, and aroundt taluses, rocky areas, and wind・swept sites near the peaks. These species also include plants endemic to this region, e.g., Silene aomorensis; plants extremely limited by habitat, e.g.,s Ranzania japonica; species at their northernmost or southernmost range; and other valuable plants, e.g., alpine flora.

(4) Fauna

Many types of mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and fresh-water fish live in the habitat of the rich beech forest.
The Heritage Area supports 14 of the 16 species of medium to large mammals known to inhabit the Tohoku Region of Japan,: the only two species excluded are Sus scrofa and Cervus nippon because they are inhibited by heavy snowfall. This number include Macaca fuscata, Ursus tribetanus, and the Special Natural Monument, Capricornis crispus.
Eighty-four species of birds have been identified as inhabitants and ,include Aquila chrysaetos japonica and Dryocopus martius, both designated as Natural Monuments. Other rare species, include Spizaetus nipalensis orientalis and Histrionicus histrionicus . Insects species are the most abundant, with approximately 2,000 species confirmed to inhabit the Heritage Area Some species found here are at their northernmost or southernmost habitat.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

Page top