Everyone’s a winner - conservation Japanese style

24 October 2010 | News story

Just thirty minutes from the hallowed halls of the Nagoya Conference Center, where negotitations to stemm the destruction of biodiversity are taking place, you find yourself in the middle of the most beautiful and traditional Japanese landscape.

Once the proposed site for the Aichi Expo in 2005, Kaisho-no-mori Forest was saved from the developers. It’s now home to endangered flora and fauna and a thriving example of how conservation can bring benefits for many.

Kaisho-no-mori Forest is one of the finest examples of the traditional Satoyama landscape, which in Japanese signifies villages (sato) and the mountains, woodlands and grasslands that surround them (yama). Set on over 600 hectares just south of Seto City, it is a popular place for visitors at weekends. 

IUCN Member, Nature Conservation Society of Japan, is monitoring the forest's biodiversity. Leading us through the paddy fields and forest paths was Masahito Yoshida, Chair of IUCN Japan. He explained what defines a Satoyama landscape and why we need to protect it.

The forest is home to flying squirrels, the giffu butterfly and the eight-barbel loach fish. There are also endangered plants, such as star magnolias. These grow naturally only within the Tokai district. In the forest you can see other precious and rare plants, such as haru-rindo and ibota-ro-no-ki.

The Satoyama landscape is the definition of the Japanese countryside. This could explain why the Japanese are so passionate about Satoyama, according to Masahito Yoshida.

While the fight to save Kaisho-no-mori Forest has been won, the battle to save Satoyama landscapes across Japan continues.

Josephine Langley, is part of IUCN’s delegation to the Convention on Biological Diversity 10th Conference of the Parties in Nagoya (CBD COP10).

While the paddy fields and forests of Kaisho-no-mori are but 30 minutes away from the Conference Center she says it’s easy to forget the natural beauty that lies on our doorstep when working these negotiations.

She also thinks that Satoyama is exactly what we should be promoting through the negotiations at CBD.


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.