Protecting biodiversity entails not only preserving pristine environments, such as wilderness, but also conserving human-influenced natural environments, such as farmlands and secondary forest, that people have developed and maintained sustainably over a long time. These human-influenced natural environments are often inhabited by a variety of species adapted to and rely on these landscapes to survive, hence they play an important role in sustaining and enhancing biodiversity. But these landscapes and seascapes – and the sustainable practices and knowledge they represent- are increasingly threatened in many parts of the world, due for example, to urbanisation, industrialisation, and rapid rural population increase and decrease. Measures are urgently needed to conserve these sustainable types of human-influenced natural environments through broader global recognition of their value.
To tackle this critical issue, the Ministry of the Environment of Japan and the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) jointly initiated the Satoyama Initiative. This international effort promotes activities consistent with existing fundamental principles including the Ecosystem Approach. Our core vision is to realise societies in harmony with nature, that is, built on positive human-nature relationships.
With the launch of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative at the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2010, we intend to officially establish an international platform to accelerate our efforts. The Satoyama Initiative is expected to contribute significantly to achieving the three objectives of the Convention.
The vision of the Satoyama Initiative is to realise societies in harmony with nature, comprising human communities where the maintenance and development of socio-economic activities (including agriculture and forestry) align with natural processes. By managing and using biological resources sustainably and thus properly maintaining biodiversity, humans will enjoy a stable supply of various natural benefits well into the future. Through the Satoyama Initiative, we will review, with social and scientific points of view, how relationships between humans and nature should function in what are now referred to as socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS)
Our three-fold approach is intended to maintain and rebuild landscapes in which land and natural resources are used and managed in a more sustainable manner:
• Consolidating wisdom on securing diverse ecosystem services and values
• Integrating traditional ecological knowledge and modern science to promote innovations
• Exploring new forms of co-management systems or evolving frameworks of “commons” while respecting traditional communal land tenure
Understanding the diverse ecosystem services and values that give rise to human well-being is an indispensable aspect of this approach, as is consolidation of wisdom on securing these services. It is also critical to discuss how to create synergy between traditional knowledge and modern science to promote innovations, because without sufficient scientific corroboration, a wide range of traditional knowledge is not being used optimally. Also vital to the process is exploring new forms of co-management systems or evolving frameworks of “commons”, comprising not only landowners and local residents, but also various interested parties who also benefit from relevant ecosystem services, while respecting traditional communal land tenure where necessary. This new social mechanism would support and promote the maintenance and rebuilding of socio-ecological production landscapes.
In following the above approach, the maintenance and rebuilding of socio-ecological production landscapes in various localities -that is, putting sustainable use and management of natural resources into practice- should entail five ecological and socio-economic perspectives:
• Resource use within the carrying capacity and resilience of the environment
• Cyclic use of natural resources
• Recognition of the value and importance of local traditions and culture
• Multi-stakeholder participation and collaboration in sustainable and multi-functional management of natural resources and ecosystem services
• Contributions to sustainable socio-economies including poverty reduction, food security, sustainable livelihood and local community empowerment
The Initiative will target such areas as villages, farmland, and adjacent woods and grasslands that have been formed and maintained through long-term human influence. These unique places at the interface of nature and human settlement have many names – muyong in the Philippines, kebun in Indonesia and Malaysia, mauel in Korea, dehesa in Spain, and terroir in France. Such landscapes vary widely due to their unique adaptations to local climatic, geographic, cultural, and socio-economic conditions; however, they are equally valuable in terms of sustainability. The Initiative should preferably be named after its target areas. However, since there is no universal term to indicate such areas, we use “Satoyama”. “Satoyama” denotes mountains, woodlands, and grasslands (yama) surrounding villages (sato) in Japan.
By rebuilding harmonious relationships between humans and nature, we expect the Satoyama Initiative to contribute to slowing the escalating loss of biodiversity worldwide, with the dual impacts of retaining and enhancing the biodiversity found in human-influenced natural environments and promoting sustainable use of natural resources.
In the process, the Initiative may also help improve human well-being, for example, enhancing stable food production and income generation by applying pluralistic land uses and betterment of living conditions by promoting environmentally friendly biomass resources. Furthermore, the Initiative can also allow for the enjoyment of the benefits of sustainable use of genetic resources through appraisal of traditional knowledge and culture.
The International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) aims to carry out the activities identified by the Satoyama Initiative described in the paris Declaration. The Partnership is open to all organisations committed to promote and support socio-ecological production landscapes for the benefit of biodiversity and human well-being, such as national or local governmental organisations, indigenous or local community organisations, academic, educational and/or research institutes, industry or private sector organisations, United Nations or other international organisations, and others to foster synergies in the implementation of their respective activities.
Members of the IPSI will collaborate to promote the following highly useful activities: