Nature-oriented park use of satoyama ecosystems can enhance biodiversity conservation in urbanized landscapes

Abstract

Satoyama is one of the semi-natural ecosystems in Japan. Traditional agricultural practices in satoyama provide preferable habitats for many species, thus, enhancing biodiversity. However, many satoyama ecosystems have been altered by agricultural intensification and rapid urbanization. Meanwhile, ageing and shrinking population has led to the abandonment of remaining satoyama ecosystems, resulting in their potential degradation. We argue that counteracting the abandonment of satoyama is particularly essential in urbanized landscapes because conserving its biodiversity would have a payoff for urban communities. We focused on nature-oriented park use of satoyama ecosystems, utilizing their original scenery, topography, water features, and vegetation. To evaluate the potential of nature-oriented park use for biodiversity conservation, we examined the differences in diversity and species composition of vascular plants and butterflies among three land-use types (agricultural-use, park-use, and abandoned sites) of satoyama ecosystems. Diversity of native plants and butterflies did not significantly differ between agricultural-use and park-use sites and that of native plants was significantly lower at abandoned sites than at agricultural-use sites. Although species composition of native plants at agricultural-use sites and park-use sites significantly differ, that of native butterflies did not. The efficacy of park use for biodiversity conservation, thus, depended on the taxa. Nonetheless, for striking a balance between the difficulty in maintaining agricultural use and accelerating satoyama abandonment, our study highlights the utility of park use as an alternative usage, contributing to biodiversity conservation. Balancing the wise use of satoyama in urbanized landscapes is a fundamental step toward the conservation of its biodiversity and human–nature interactions.

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Acknowledgements

We thank our laboratory members for helping with fieldwork, especially Taiki Tachibana, Kousuke Tachibana, Akihito Goto, Rio Matsumura, Daichi Makishima, Hiroki Koyata, and Rui Suto. This work was supported by Hitachi Global Foundation (Grant Number 1331) and the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund (Grant Number S-15-2) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

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Correspondence to Yuki Iwachido.

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Iwachido, Y., Uchida, K., Ushimaru, A. et al. Nature-oriented park use of satoyama ecosystems can enhance biodiversity conservation in urbanized landscapes. Landscape Ecol Eng 16, 163–172 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11355-020-00413-y

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Keywords

  • Agricultural abandonment
  • Cultural ecosystem services
  • Human–nature interaction
  • Park management
  • Semi-natural
  • Urban shrinkage