People and nature - living in harmony

06 February 2010 | News story

Preserving and developing villages and farmlands in a sustainable way is just as important for biodiversity and human well-being, as is the conservation of wilderness. But to achieve this, we need to build a sound, harmonious and long-lasting relationship with nature.

Led by IUCN Member the Ministry of the Environment of Japan and the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies, the Satoyama Initiative focuses on conserving villages and farmlands, together with the sustainable practices and traditional knowledge that they represent.

The Satoyama Initiative aims at preserving natural environments influenced by people, ensuring a broader global recognition of their value and improving the well-being of the people that maintain them.

The name of the initiative comes from the Japanese words sato - villages, and yama - the mountains, woodlands and grasslands that surround them. Together, they form the unique areas at the crossroads between nature and people. These traditional farming landscapes are increasingly threatened in many parts of the world, mainly due to urban and industrial development

The Satoyama Initiative is based on a three-fold approach. First, it looks into the relationship between nature and people from a dual perspective: it examines the ecosystem services, such as the provision of food and medicine, that are crucial to our well-being but also the ways in which we can sustain them. Secondly, the initiative aims to marry traditional knowledge and culture with modern science, to ensure that both are used in an optimal way. And finally, it focuses on developing a new, sustainable way of managing ecosystem services.

The Satoyama Initiative is expected to be launched internationally at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity this October in Nagoya. It is intended to function as a platform for sharing information and discussion of projects in the field between international organizations, governments, civil society and private companies.

Watch this interview with Jeff McNeely, IUCN Chief Scientist, talking about Satoyama, similar landscapes and the Satoyama Initiative.

Watch this video and see how two entrepreneurs use both traditional knowledge and scientific advancement to support the biological diversity of their forests and mountains.

Click here to learn more about the Satoyama Initiative.