Satoyama Landscape of Japan—Past, Present, and Future

  • Mahito Kamada


Satoyama landscape is expressed as vegetation mosaic composed of different successional stages, such as cropland, grassland, and pine and oak forests in different growth phase. The mosaic structure was dynamically sustained by use of natural resources with periodical cutting, under local rule for sharing resources without exhaustion. It is said, therefore, that Satoyama landscape represents people’s life harmonized with nature. The landscape, however, drastically changed due to the socioeconomic change of Japan, in relation to rapid economic growth from 1955 to 1975. Since people moved from rural to urban area for getting jobs in the period, wide area of Satoyama at urban fringe was developed to housing estate. Materials for daily life, such as domestic fuel, fertilizer for crops, timber, were changed from natural resources collected from Satoyama to those of chemical and/or imported ones. Disuse of natural resources allowed vegetation to progress natural succession, and caused a change of Satoyama landscape from mosaic into monotonous one, and then spread of pine and oak wilt diseases. Explosive increase in Shika deer population and extreme expansion of bamboo forests have seriously damaged to Satoyama ecosystems. These challenges represent change into people’s life disharmonized with nature. Activities for restoring and utilizing Satoyama have newly arisen in different regions. In urban and urban fringe areas, NPOs and other volunteers outside the area have formed theme community and taken a core role in improving supplying services of Satoyama ecosystems with getting cultural services. In the depopulating mountainous area with less volunteer power, social system for getting domestic energy and for circulating economy in the area has built to make an incentive of Satoyama restoration for community member, such as forest owners, forest owner’s cooperative and store managers, under a management of NPO. The trial is to improve supporting services by getting provisioning services from the Satoyama forest. In every region, NPO is the key not only for player but also for producer and manager of the activities.



I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Nobukazu Nakagohi for his great support and encouragement on my academic career. I am also grateful to Prof. Dr. Sun-Kee Hong for giving me a chance to contribute to this memorial book.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Science and Technology, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Graduate School of Technology, Industrial and Social SciencesTokushima UniversityTokushimaJapan

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