, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 559-578

First online:

Traditional Farming Landscapes for Sustainable Living in Scandinavia and Japan: Global Revival Through the Satoyama Initiative

  • Björn E. BerglundAffiliated withDepartment of Geology/Quaternary Geology Email author 
  • , Junko KitagawaAffiliated withInternational Research Center for Japanese Studies
  • , Per LageråsAffiliated withSwedish National Heritage Board
  • , Koji NakamuraAffiliated withThe Satoyama Satoumi Project, Kanazawa University
  • , Naoko SasakiAffiliated withGraduate School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Kyoto Prefectural University
  • , Yoshinori YasudaAffiliated withGraduate School of Environmental Studies, Tohoku University

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Traditional, pre-industrial farming was adapted to the natural environment—topography, geology, hydrology, climate, and biota. Traditional land use systems are still to be traced in Scandinavia as an “infield/outland landscape”, and in Japan as a “Satoyama landscape.” There are obvious similarities and differences in land use—the main difference being that pasturing of cattle and sheep has been less important in Japan. These land use systems can be traced back to early sedentary settlements 1500–2500 years ago. In both regions, traditional management almost ceased in the mid-twentieth century leading to afforestation and decreased biological diversity. Today, there is in Japan a growing movement for landscape restoration and promotion of a sustainable living countryside based on local agrarian and forestry production, local energy, tourism, etc. With this background, the so-called Satoyama Initiative has been organized and introduced as a global socio-ecological project with ecosystem services for human well-being.


Agrarian land use history Satoyama landscape Infield/outland Nature restoration Biodiversity changes Deforestation history