At the International Forum on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems, held in Beijing on 11 June 2011, two farming systems in Japan — one in Niigata Prefecture (Sado’s Satoyama with Ibis) and one in Ishikawa Prefecture (Noto’s Satoyama and Satoumi) — were officially designated as the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS).
The GIAHS concept, initiated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2002, is designed to safeguard and support ecologically valuable, traditional farming systems and agricultural practices. GIAHS-designated systems make use of the local environment and rely on environmentally friendly land utilization systems to conserve biodiversity and the landscape.
The UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP) has long been involved in agro-diversity research in many regions around the world. UNU-ISP developed the data and knowledge garnered from this research in its activities to support the promotion of the GIAHS initiative, including the documentation of relevant GIAHS sites. So far, eight farming systems, including “Rice-Fish Agriculture” in China, “Ifugao Rice Terraces” in the Philippines, and “Andean Agriculture” of Peru, have been designated as pilot GIAHS sites.
Alongside this context, in 2010 — the UN International Year of Biodiversity — the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP10) was held in Nagoya. This and other contributions by Japan to conserving biodiversity and promoting international coordination led to heightened opportunities to realize the recognition of Satoyama within the GIAHS. UNU-ISP therefore began to take steps to recommend the sites in Sado and Noto as GIAHS candidates, working with UNU Institute of Advanced Studies and the Hokuriku Regional Agricultural Administration Office of the Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to secure support in the Hokuriku Region to apply for GIAHS recognition of both sites.
An official ceremony and memorial event were held on 16 June in Sado and on 17 June in Wajima, Noto.
“The key to land reconstruction and regeneration lies in agriculture, forestry and fisheries,” said Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi, a UNU Vice-Rector and Director of UNU-ISP. “I hope this GIAHS recognition will be applied to the promotion of local tourism and branding of agricultural products, as well as the development of Satoyama values through exchanging with GIAHS sites overseas.”
For more information, see the announcement on the UNU-ISP website.