Nature is one of the most inseparable aspects when it comes to human life. It is through nature that we get our live moving; talk of the air that we breathe, water for various uses, and land. Therefore, it calls for utmost care of these three basic components of our environment. This is the reason why I want to talk about the “Satoyama,” one of the most practical ways that address natural resource management in an efficient and effective manner in Japan.
Various definitions have been coined to define “Satoyama.” The word itself is a derivation of two words, i.e. “Sato,” which is a Japanese name for a village, and “Yama,” a Japanese name for people. Yokohari and Bolthouse (2011) define the Satoyama as a holistic interlink of various units such as settlements, forests, rice paddies, agricultural fields, grasslands, and woodlands, in one place. Satoyama can also refer to a landscape that consists of managed community woodlands and forests (Yokohari & Bolthouse, 2011; Takeuchi et al., 2003). According to Tsuchiyaa, Okurob, and Takeuchi (2013), Satoyama is a perfect woodland management system. Notably, all these definitions have incorporated the aspect of communities acting in a coordinated manner to manage nature for a common benefit. Therefore, a Satoyama can be simply defined as a system where there is perfect co-existence between people and nature.
Although the Satoyama is mostly practiced in Japan, there is an ongoing interest from all over the world owing to its benefits. Indeed, such trends confirm that Satoyama might be the future management system for human-ecological systems worldwide (Indrawana, Yabeb, Nomurac, & Harrison, 2014). In a Satoyama, people interact with nature in various ways with an aim of getting the maximum from nature and at the same time, ensuring that nature’s status or condition remains intact.
Through proper management, a Satoyama can ensure harvest of various products such as timber and other non-timber products like charcoal, mushrooms, wild vegetables and wild foods. A Satoyama also has grasslands for feeding of livestock, constructions materials especially for thatching houses, and sometime beddings and fertilizer. Rice paddies and other agricultural field in a Satoyama ensure that there is sufficient food supply for the people that live in it. Specifically, the grasslands and woodlands in a Satoyama act as habitats thus increasing the biodiversity levels. This means that with a Satoyama, one creates almost a perfect society where nature and humans interact for each other’s benefit.
I believe that having or living in a Satoyama is a dream that most of us could like to accomplish. Breathing fresh air, feeling the presence of nature in the proximity of your homestead, and most importantly, being plenty supply of foods from the Satoyama! It is high time that we embraced such systems for the sake of our current lives and a sustainable future.
Indrawana, M., Yabeb,M., Nomurac, H., Harrison, H. (2014). Deconstructing satoyama- socio-ecological landscape in Japan. Ecological Engineering, 64, 77–84.
Takeuchi, K., et al. (2003). Satoyama: Traditional rural landscape of Japan. Springer, Tokyo.
Tsuchiyaa. K., Okurob, T., Takeuchib, K. (2013). Combined effects of conservation policy and co-management alter the understory vegetation of urban woodlands: Case study in the Tama Hills area, Japan. , 110, 87–98.
Yokohari, M., Bolthouse, J. (2011). Keepit alive,don’tfreeze it: Conceptual perspectiveonthe conservationof continuously evolving satoyama landscapes. Landsc. Ecol. Eng., 7, 207–216.