My desire to ensure environmental sustainability.

Point blank on environmental issues.

Friday, 29 May 2015

The Satoyama

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. Landscape and Urban Planning, 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.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Possibility of Green Cities

When we hear of the word “green,” we always think of nature; i.e. forests, grasslands, botanical gardens, orchards. On the other hand, the word “cities” keeps us oriented to a scenario of an artificial system that replaces nature; i.e. full-range infrastructure that includes buildings, roads, industrial and sports areas. That brings the question of how these two words (green and city) can exist in one place. It is truly possible to have nature deeply ingrained in a system full of anthropogenic activities! This is possible in various ways.
Specifically, there needs to be policies and laws that guide the planning of cities. This will ensure an organized system of carrying out activities the city. For instance, Japan has an Urban Planning Law that was set up in 1968 and this has had a great positive impact in relation to having green cities in Japan (Tsuchiyaa, Okurob, Takeuchi, 2013). Indeed, one cannot miss to include the word “green” when defining any Japanese city. This Urban Planning Law divides the city into two major areas; the first one referred to as the Urbanization Promotion Areas and the second one called Urbanization Control Areas. In this case, Urbanization Promotion Areas refer to those areas that can be freely used for urban development purposes such as construction of buildings and roads. On the other hand, there is no urban development that is allowed in Urbanization Control Areas. Practical examples of Urban Control Areas are parks and they the best when it comes to conservation of woodlands areas in cities (Tsuchiyaa et al., 2013). This means that some section of the city will remain intact and free from any form anthropogenic activity thus maintaining the nature, while another section will give way for infrastructural development thus a city.
It becomes a big challenge to have green cities in most countries because there are no urban planning policies established. Equally, there might be the policies but the implementation is not done because of either poor governance, lack of funds and expertise or, absence all these factors.  A closer look at Nairobi city (Kenya) displays some form of an existing urban planning law, which is not strictly implemented. Nairobi city has numerous parks, with some such as Uhuru Park and Central Park, located just a stone-throw form the CBD. Despite evidence of some routine maintenance of these parks, it is disheartening that some have been totally ignored. One of such is the Nairobi City Park, that used to be famous for its scenic sites that attracted an aura of events like wedding receptions and recreational activities. However, credit has to be given to some efforts shown in protecting some of the Nairobi City green areas like Arboretum and Karura Forest that within which the Unite Nation Environment Program (UNEP) is located. Unfortunately, these efforts are not good enough because the rest of the green areas have been encroached by people leading to mushrooming of estates and other human activities. Indeed, this proves Luck, Smallbone, and O’Brien’s (2009) findings that, human activities negatively affect green areas in urban areas.  With continued encroachment, we may soon lose all green areas in the city. This calls for urgent actions from the respective authorities and agencies to tackle the issue.
Conclusively, it is possible to have green cities in not only formulation of working urban planning policies, but also their actual implementation. This will ensure environmental sustainability thus posterity. Indeed, green cities are inevitable in the current world where global warming and climate change effects keep on worsening each day!
Luck, G. W., Smallbone, L. T., & O’Brien, R. (2009). Socio-economics and vegetation change in urban ecosystems: Patterns in space and time. Ecosystems, 12, 604–620.
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. Landscape and Urban Planning, 110, 87–98.