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Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Sado’s Satoyama in Harmony with Japanese Crested Ibis

Summary

Detailed Information

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Detailed Information

Country and location: Sado City, Sado Island, Niigata, Japan

Sites: Sado City, Sado Island

Area of GIAHS: 855 km2

Ethnicity: N/A

Indicator species:

Rice: Oryza sativa

Mammals: Sado Mole (Mogera tokudae) and the Sado Hare

Birds: crested ibis

Agricultural Biodiversity

Agriculture is centred on rice cultivation  stretching from terraced to plain paddy fields. Vegetables, fruit, and flowers are produced in small quantities, harnessing the environments suitable for a variety of products.

Local brand products include “Sado Rice”, “Okesa Persimmon”, “Sado Beef,” mainly grown on the island. A variety of horticulture products are also produced such as apples, pears, figs, and strawberries, and flowers and bulbs mainly in the dune land,  Ampo Persimmonapples and mandarin oranges.

Associated Biodiversity

At a place of lower altitude, alpine flora or subalpine flora of the mainland can be observed.  37 critically endangered species of plants have been registered. In particular, as endemic species seen only on Sado, R. cirrhosa is protected.

Sado is also home to mammals like the Sado Mole (Mogera tokudae) and the Sado Hare, which are sub-endemic species to Sado. The Sado Hare is on the verge of extinction because of the influence of non-native martens. Among birds living on Sado, the Japanese crested ibis is the most famous. Sado is used as a passageway for migratory birds, and cranes, white-fronted geese, and mallards, as well as storks have been identified in recent years.

Ecosystem functions:

Grasslands feed horses and cattle. The paddy fields and upland fields serve as feeding grounds of various living organisms. Streams and ponds were managed to irrigate the paddy fields and to produce fish. Sado’s satoyama offer the ideal habitat combination for the endangered Japanese crested ibis, which depends on varied landscape for its survival.

Socio-economic and cultural characteristics:

The history of Sado is closely related to the history of gold mining. During the height of gold mining in the Edo period, one hundred thousand people lived in Aikawa Village. With the increased population, rice was distributed at a price three times higher than that on the mainland. This resulted in the development of terraced rice paddies in the hilly and mountainous areas of the island. The terraced fields developed in those days have provided a feeding ground for the Japanese crested ibis and ensured a rich village life, creating various cultural customs through shrine rituals concerning agriculture. At present, the succession of traditional culture is at stake due to the decreasing and aging population, and the preservation of culture is required as part of biodiversity preservation activities.

Threats –main factors affecting the conservation of agricultural biodiversity

The aging and decreasing population in agriculture has resulted in the abandonment of terraced fields (because of difficult arable conditions), the loss of marshes connected to forests and irrigation ponds, as well as the deterioration in biodiversity and inhabiting environment for large avian species.

It is concerned that at operational level, the decrease of farming population will lead to a decline in collective agrarian functions to support sustainable agricultural system as well as a loss of diversity. The decrease of farming population has also generated part-time farmers  who cannot spare enough time and labor on farm work. This has also invited the situation of such farmers depending on agricultural chemicals and fertilizers to produce  agricultural products within manageable labor. As a result, the management of paddy fields that serve as feeding grounds for the crested ibis is becoming more challenging.

Main objectives and activities in the pilot system

  1. Strengthen local identity and pride as well as improve local livelihoods through adding values to products of GIAHS and enhance biodiversity
  2. Boost the branding of ibis-satoyama rice and other agriculture products from Sado throught GIAHS recognition
  3. Raise the branding of ibis rice and other products and tourism of Sado in the face of depopulation.
  4. Revitalize local economy
  5. Build on-going efforts of ibis restoration to further expand the coverage of land where ibis friendly farming is practiced
  6. Enhance bio-diversity and ecosystem services on the whole island.
  7. Outcomes of GIAHS initiative with all relevant stake-holders will develop a Sado model, as a good practice, to promote living in harmony with nature including the Japanese crested ibis.