Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Kunisaki Peninsula Usa Integrated Forestry, Agriculture and Fisheries Systems, Japan

GIAHS since 2013


Detailed Information



Global importance

The ancestors in the area have integrated forests and agriculture in the area where it was difficult to obtain enough water due to narrow flat plains and volcanic soil that absorbs rainfall easily, which make it difficult to get water from rivers. They have grown and maintained the Sawtooth Oak forests that have many roles: providing log beds for cultivating mushrooms, retaining water in the soil and providing spring water, and forming the landscape. The local farmers have developed approximately 1,200 multiple interlinked irrigation ponds to secure water resources for agriculture and forestry. In the interlinked irrigation system, the limited water resources are distributed systematically to various type of famers according to the seasons so that they can distribute water from these ponds equitably. In addition, the canals also bring rain from the other catchment areas into the reservoirs and maintain water supply to alleviate water shortage.

Food and livelihood security

As large scale paddy agriculture was not developed in the region, people started to cultivate a commodity that complements wetland rice. The region has a rich diversification of agricultural livelihood options, such as beef cattle, welsh onion, mandarin oranges grown in greenhouses. In particular, the Sawtooth Oak has played an important role. It can re-grow within 15 years after it is cut down and it provides the people in the area with logs necessary for Shiitake mushroom production. The logs are used for log wood cultivated Shiitake production for 3 to 4 years by providing necessary source of nutrients to the growth of Shiitake mushrooms that have significant nutritional and medicinal value. Shiitake mushrooms grown in Oita Prefecture where the GIAHS site is located have won the title of the best mushroom in Japan at the National Dried Shiitake Competition for 14 consecutive years and it is highly appreciated.

Biodiversity and ecosystem functions

The Kunisaki Peninsula Usa area spreads radially from the peak of Mt. Futago (height of 721 m) at its center, to the coastal areas rich in variation. In each environment there exists a variety of plants and animals adapted to that environment. Through the adequate management of Sawtooth Oak forests and multiple irrigation ponds by the region’s residents’ unified efforts, characteristic agricultural, forestry and fishery industries such as log wood cultivated Shiitake and Shichitoui have been preserved and they help conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Knowledge systems and adapted technologies

In the Kunisaki Peninsula Usa area exists excellent techniques suited to the agriculture and forestry industries such as the circulation of Sawtooth Oak cutting and re-growth, the production of log wood cultivated Shiitake in broadleaf forests, the water supply system of multiple interlinked small scale irrigation pond in each valley, and paddy agriculture.

Cultures, value systems and social organizations

They have preserved unique culture, festivals and religion that have close relationship with agriculture. People have used the agricultural ponds for praying to the water gods and festivals have been held to offer gratitude for the harvest of the previous year and prays for prosperity in the year ahead.

Remarkable landscapes, Land and Water resources management features

Due to volcanic soil, swift and short rivers, narrow valleys, low rainfall and the difficulty or river water utilization, the people have developed approximately 1,200 irrigation ponds for paddy agriculture. As the geographical conditions prevented the construction of large scale irrigation ponds, the people have established the technique of multiple interlinked small irrigation ponds to provide the necessary amount of water. On average, there are 4 small scale irrigation ponds for every valley and people have jointly managed the interlinked water supply system. Regarding landscape, Tashibunosho Osaki Area, which is a part of the GIAHS site, is regarded as a living museum where the early 14th to 15th century agricultural practices and landscapes are retained.