Movement of Satoyama Renaissance

Measures to attract urban populations to rural areas have been undertaken in many sectors. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has enhanced the interaction between people in rural areas and urban areas through activities such as green tourism, environmental education, farmers’ markets, and short-stay holidays.

In 2009, “the model program for the rehabilitation of rural areas through support of human development (Noson Kasseika Jinzai Ikusei Shien Model Jigyo)” was conducted for a year, and 291 people participated. Of this number, 189 people began to live in a rural area. Young people in their twenties made up most of the participants (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 2010).

The Ministry of the Environment has been initiating the rehabilitation of “Satochi-Satoyama” areas from an ecological point of view, in which “Satochi- Satoyama” were defined as “conceptual geographic regions located between urban and primitive natural areas where the environment has been formed through the efforts of diverse human activity, and is comprised of secondary forests surround­ing villages intermixed with farmland, reservoirs, and grasslands, among other features” (Nature Conservation Bureau, Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan 2004, p. 2). For example, the “Sato-Navi (The Rural Landscape Naviga­tion) Project” has been promoted since 2008 and aims to collect good examples of practices conducted in Satochi-Satoyama areas and to share methods and knowl­edge with people living in different places. From October 2011 to February 2012, several symposiums were held to discuss challenges and potential solutions with local residents, NPOs, local authorities, and experts in ten selected areas.

The valuation of “Satoyama” was conducted under an initiative led by the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) known as “Satoyama Satoumi SGA” from 2004 to 2010. This valuation included “Satoumi,” which refers to traditional coastal areas in addition to inland areas. Also the “Satoyama Initiative” was introduced internationally as a socioecological produc­tion landscape in 2010 when the Convention of Biodiversity COP10 was held in Nagoya (Takeuchi 2011).

However, a breakthrough in the revitalization of rural areas has not been achieved, and the gap between the reality and the situation described in Scenario B remains large.