Outline of Wakasa Town’s (Fukui Prefecture) Activities Relating to Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes (SEPLS)
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Japan (Fukui Prefecture)
In Wakasa Town, we are promoting efforts for resident cooperation in passing down a bountiful environment to future generations, and continuing a town development policy based on environmental preservation.
environmental preservation, nature restoration, Five Lakes of Mikata, Varves
1 Goal of this case study’s activities
In the current world where lifestyles are changing and people’s involvement with nature is decreasing, through learning from the ideas and wisdom of our forerunners, and preserving the nature of the SATOYAMA such as the Five Lakes of Mikata and the Kitagawa River, our goal is to utilize resources to construct a lasting environment, and create a town for the co-existence of people and nature.
2 Characteristics of the case study location
Wakasa Town is located in the southwestern part of Fukui Prefecture, with a population of 16,099 (as of the 2010 National Census), and an area of 178.65km2. On March 31, 2005, Mikata Town of Mikata District and Kaminaka Town of Onyu District merged to create Wakasa Town, Mikata-kaminaka District.
Wakasa Town lies within the Wakasa Wan Quasi-National Park, and is abound with water resources, such as the Five Lakes of Mikata, which are registered under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, UriwariWaterfall, designated as one of Japan’s 100 Famous Waters, and the first-class river known as the most beautiful in the Kinki region, the Kitagawa River.
This region’s history goes back over 10,000 years to the Jomon period, and many ruins from this period and ancient tombs from the Kofun period have been found.
Wakasa is also the birthplace of Fukui Ume, or Fukui Plums, and plums and pears are widely cultivated. There are also over 120 inns and lodging accommodations, and the town is pouring efforts into tourism.
At the bottom of one of the Five Lakes of Mikata, Lake Suigetsu, are layers of sediment, called “varves,” that accumulated over 70,000 years in a striped pattern. These varves and the research concerning them have been receiving attention both domestically and abroad.
■ Wakasa Town Environment Declaration (Established March 2006)
With the Ramsar-registered Five Lakes of Mikata, our Mother Sea, the sea of Japan, our blessed water, Uriwari Waterfall, and the most beautiful river in Kinki, the Kitagawa River, Wakasa Town is a “Town of Water.”
The source of these pure waters is the green earth, including Mount Sanjusangen.
Since the Jomon period, we, along with all living things, have lived among this blessing of precious nature, and have harmoniously nurtured each other’s lives.
The principles of co-existence and cyclicality that our pure water and green earth have long spoken of – shine with the sea in the summer, welcome the crops with the mountain in autumn, endure with the seeds in winter, dance with the plum blossoms in spring – however convenient our lifestyles become, we will never forget these principles.
Strengthening our mutual bond and protecting the nature and environment of Wakasa is our mission that only we who have been entrusted with the future of this town can fulfill. We hereby declare that we are conscious of this mission, that we will love nature, that we will nurture the earth, and that we will continue to walk forward with all living things.
3 Activities of the case study
3.1 Preservation activities of (Satochi-)Satoyama
To promote the preservation of Satochi-Satoyama and wetlands, the 3 parties of Fukui Prefecture, Wakasa Town, and local environmental preservation groups formed a Biodiversity conservation agreement, and support the preservation activities groups.
Environmental study events are also held by the environmental preservation groups.
■ Events in the wetlands covered under the preservation agreement
・Eliminating the invasive species, the American bullfrog
・Revitalizing unused rice fields in part of the wetlands, planting rice, and harvesting rice
・Species observation tour for local residents and elementary school students
Observers were able to see many endangered species such as Ranaporosa (Daruma pond frog)、Lefua echigonia (Japanese eight-barbelloach)、and Oryzias latipes (Japanese ricefish) in their natural habitat.
3.2 Environmental Partnership Organizations
We established the Wakasa Town Environmental Partnership Conference, organized of various groups in the town, promote the town’s Basic Environmental Plan, and are planning educational activities by the groups that make up this partnership.
3.3 Approach to Nature Restoration of the Five Lakes of Mikata
The Five Lakes of Mikata is the term for 5 lakes that extend from Wakasa Town into neighboring Mihama Town. Because each lake has different salinity, different species inhabit each lake, and contribute to the diversity and variety of the lake environment. Within this environment, the existence of valuable fish such as Opsariichthys uncirostris, Acheilognathus cyanostigma (striped bitterling), and Gnathopogon elongates forms a foundation for registration to the Ramsar Convention.
On the other hand, the current state of the Five Lakes of Mikata is that water pollution is growing, and the lakeshore vegetation zone that many diverse fish call home is decreasing rapidly. Furthermore, an increase in invasive species such as Micropterus salmoides (Largemouth bass), and Lepomis macrochirus (bluegill) has led to a decrease in native species, and the once bountiful natural environment of the Five Lakes of Mikata is quickly being lost.
Wakasa Town takes part in planning the Five Lakes of Mikata Nature Restoration Conference, and one of our efforts is revitalizing biological relationships, relations between people and nature, and relations between people, in a region where the connections with rice fields and lakes are strong. Specifically, we install fishways, and promote the reproduction of native fish in rice fields based on research done on raising juvenile fish in rice fields. We have a plan to create a manual for raising juvenile fish in a rice field.
3.4 Eliminating Introduced Species
In Wakasa Town, the invasive species, Solidago canadensis (Canada goldenrod), and Coreopsis lanceolata (Lance-leaved coreopsis) are leading to worry about their effects on native species and concern that the rural landscape is being lost.
Local interest in eliminating invasive species is increasing among residents thanks to calls for elimination and the actual elimination work that has gone on in various areas.
3.5 Consideration and Use of Natural Renewable Energy
As an application of woody biomass, we have introduced pellet stoves at public facilities, and we manufacture and supply wooden pellets that use materials from scrap wood from buildings in Wakasa Town. We will continue to consider the use of more Natural Renewable Energy.
3.6 Environmental Education
As a result of training programs for the application of woody biomass at junior high schools, field trips to pellet fuel factories, and waste oil soap making workshops at elementary schools, we are anticipating a rise in interest in environmental preservation and resource recycling.
Efforts to restore nature in the Five Lakes of Mikata and the surrounding area have just begun. We are continuing efforts to raise young fish in rice fields and release them and are researching farming methods that are not harmful to the environment. We will continue to report the state and results of our efforts in the future.