Rebuilding the relationship between people and nature: the Satoyama Initiative


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Abstract

The satoyama landscape is a traditional Japanese rural land-use system that represents a balanced relationship between human beings and nature, thereby sustaining a variety of ecosystem services, including the diversity of secondary natural environments. Overuse of the satoyama, as occurred during the Edo and early Meiji periods, as well as underuse as seen in the wake of the fuel and fertilizer revolutions of the 1960s, destroy this balance and hence the sustainability of this system. The Satoyama Initiative is an effort to rebuild a healthy relationship between nature and people who respect the traditional knowledge embodied in the satoyama system, and to explore new shared management systems (“new” commons) in which various actors, including corporations, participate in working toward the combined goals of a low-carbon, resource-circulating, nature-harmonious society. In the interests of furthering cooperation with developing nations, it is important that this initiative pay heed to the need for improved agricultural, forestry, and livestock industry productivity that harmonizes with the natural environment, and to the improvement of human well-being and the reduction of poverty.

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