Japan’s coastal forests – a safety blanket

Since the 17th century, Japan’s coastal forests have been managed to protect coastal communities and infrastructure from extreme weather and salt damage. These forests are also of great importance to the cultural heritage and identity of the communities they protect.

Boat stranded on land after the Japanese tsunami

Today, these forests, mostly made up of Japanese black pine, cover 1,640km2 of coastline. Japan’s Forest Law states that Disaster Risk Management (DRM) forests should be planted along the coast to prevent damages from hazards. The Government has made it a priority to replant coastal forests as ecosystem-based measures to complement other engineered solutions.

After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the Government began the process of creating a national park to run along the entire length of coastline that was affected. The Sanriku Reconstruction National Park initiative highlights the critical (and in many cases overlooked) role of national parks and protected areas in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

IUCN and the Ministry of Environment of Japan are organizing an international workshop on disaster risk reduction and protected areas on 18 November, just after the 1st Asia Parks Congress which runs 13 to 17 November.

The workshop will focus on sharing key information and outcomes emerging from the Disaster Risk Reduction and Protected Areas theme of the Congress, as well as lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

“The workshop provides a great opportunity to communicate the role of protected areas in disaster management and demonstrate the links between disasters, climate change and protected areas, using the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Sanriku Reconstruction Park as a leading example,” says Radhika Murti of IUCN’s Ecosystem Management Programme.

The outcomes will feed into the Asia Parks Congress and the World Parks Congress which takes place in Sydney in November 2014 and the 3rd UN Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015.

For more information contact:

Radhika Murti, IUCN Ecosystem Management Programme radhika.murti@iucn.org

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