Nearly 40 % of the land in Japan, Satoyama is a Japanese term applied to the border zone or area between primeval forests and cities. The area is composed of rice fields and human- influenced nature. Villagers take care of trees to cut and utilize as materials and fuel, and fallen leaves are utilized as fodder. Satoyama is a great model of a sustainable ecosystem and its forests provide protection against disasters such as typhoons and torrential rains. Rich soil created by nature absorbs much more water, unlike concrete ground and roots spread across mountains help to prevent landslides. If satoyama and forest environments are established around human settlements, they can prevent the rapid inflow of rainwater and limit damage in urban areas.
Local biodiversity has been conserved in satoyama, but in recent years problems have emerged by the following causes. Especially, lack of care for satoyama has led to the destruction of habitats on abandoned farmland. ・The aging of the population, abandonment of farmland due to animal damage ・Destruction of habitats in abandoned farmlands ・Capturing and stealing of rare species ・Increase in the number of non-native species ・Spraying of pesticides and herbicides ・Illegal dumping
Satoyama plays a major role in preserving biodiversity and sustainable society for human beings, but if these challenges lead to the destruction and loss of biodiversity, the cycle that has kept the earth in balance will be disrupted.
There are local people who dedicate themself to satoyama, citizen groups and NGOs that carry out conservation and restoration activities, but they face problems such as a lack of manpower and funds. It is necessary to increase the number of young people who are actively involved in satoyama, and to train and welcome people with conservation skills.
A network has been established by the Ministry of the Environment to nurture people with skills to conserve Satoyama and to recruit volunteers. Prospective volunteers are introduced to satochi-satoyama conservation groups throughout Japan and provided with information on training sessions for beginners. The network also introduces conservation groups to experts in the creation of conservation and restoration plans and specific conservation techniques.
Biodiversity Offsetting and Satoyama Banking:Biodiversity offsetting schemes are being introduced around the world. This is a system to mitigate the loss of nature in an area as much as possible by restoring, creating, or maintaining nature lost due to development activities in another location. In Japan, this system has not yet been introduced, but discussions on its introduction are underway in various fields. Satoyama Banking" has been proposed as a Japanese version of the biodiversity offsetting method by a laboratory at Tokyo City University. People will pay money when using satoyama as a place for activities(camping, fishing) or receiving ecosystem services. This money will be paid to the owners of satoyama so that they could maintain the environment there.