Satoyama Initiative workshop envisions national green eco-network

As a prelude to the upcoming two-day seminar on environmental education, the Forestry Bureau of the Council of Agriculture held a workshop on Sept. 15 in Taichung City to discuss the implementation of the international partnership for the Satoyama Initiative in Taiwan. 

Some 200 partners from over 50 organizations, including government agencies, academic institutes, communities, and green industry practitioners, gathered together at the National Museum of Natural Science to share the results of regional efforts to realize societies in harmony with nature and discuss the promotion of a nationwide network for the Satoyama Initiative in Taiwan. 

The International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI), which was initiated by Japan and the United Nations in 2010 to promote the harmonious co-existence of human and nature throughout the world, was later introduced into Taiwan to preserve and utilize its socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS). More and more local communities soon followed suit and began taking a more balanced approach towards their production landscapes. 

The Taiwan Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (TPSI) launched by the Forestry Bureau and the National Dong Hwa University has gotten strong support from the IPSI. Every year, practitioners and related organizations interested in implementing and exchanging Satoyama Initiative goals and practices from around the country are invited by the TPSI to partake in workshops and field investigations and explore new ways and means for using and managing natural resources sustainably.

In particular, the TPSI aims to promote the concepts of the Satoyama Initiative by connecting local communities and tribal organizations with the private sector, green enterprises and government agencies. So that they will be much more equipped to identify the Taiwan-specific issues, objectives, strategy, action plans and future challenges related to the Satoyama Initiative, and nationwide collaboration will explore and streamline feasible practices and enhance each other’s knowledge and mobility. 

Dong Hwa University Professor Lee Kuang-chung noted that the TPSI is launched by Dong Hwa University in cooperation with the Forestry Bureau two years ago for five main objectives: to facilitate international participation, conduct policy research, enhance knowledge, nurture new talents, and implement the Satoyama Initiative in Taiwan. 

Eight regional workshops have been held in the past two years, and Taiwan people have become well-versed in this area of knowledge, thereby being more equipped to adapt the Satoyama Initiative to local landscapes, said Lee. “We hold the workshop this year in conjunction with the seminar to promote the Satoyama Initiative in the hope of conveying the concepts of the initiative to the public through environmental education,” he added. 

At the Sept. 15 workshop, the Forestry Bureau shared its recent progress in implementing the initiative, including the Luodong Forest District Office’s practice of “stringing together strewn pearls” which has made an inventory of potential hot spots well-suited for the Satoyama Initiative under its jurisdiction, and the Hualien Forest District Office’s “the forest is the ocean’s lover” campaign for creating a cross-sectoral collaborative platform to manage shared resources. 

With valuable input from Dong Hwa University, the Hualien campaign was notable for fostering collaboration among the Hualien District Agricultural Research and Extension Station, Hualien Branch of the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, the Amis tribe village and the Kavalan tribe village Paterongan. The platform is aimed at bringing back the pristine landscape of “mountain forests, rivers, settlements, oceans” once enjoyed by the ancestors of the Kavalan people. 

Meanwhile, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology reported on its cooperation with Wutai Township, Pingtung in promoting green economy in mountain villages; and the Endemic Species Research Institute briefed on the situation of advocating for farming practices less detrimental to the livelihood of leopard cats in Nantou County. 

Director-General Lin Hwa-ching of the Forestry Bureau, who introduced to Taiwan the concepts of the Satoyama Initiative, explained that shallow mountain habitats have been seriously destroyed by farmland development and pollutions over the past 30 years. However, the Forestry Bureau has introduced wetland ecosystem restoration from the perspective of terraced fields since 2009, he said. 

With the introduction of the concepts of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative in 2010, the Forestry Bureau hopes to help people recover their identification of land, revitalize local industries, and reconstruct the original landscapes of every region. Many civic groups have already aligned their community development plans with the Satoyama concepts, and the Forestry Bureau plans to bring together these regional partners to further develop the National Land Ecological Green Network Program that integrates eco-friendly practices.
From the demonstration area to systematic development, the program will build “green belts” along rivers or highways and “blue belts” of irrigation waterways from the central axis to coastal areas, in conjunction with such strategies as ecological afforestation, animal passages and environment-friendly agriculture, to construct a national green ecological conservation network by connecting forests, rivers, settlements and seas. 

Looking forward to the achievements of future expansion of the Satoyama Initiative, the Forestry Bureau hopes to weave corridors of “forests, settlements, rivers, seas” to become a national biological safety net, so that the ecology, agriculture and landscapes in Taiwan can enjoy sustainable prosperity. 

Key terms
Satoyama Initiative = 里山倡議
Professor Lee Kuang-chung = 李光中教授
Hualien District Agricultural Research and Extension Station = 花蓮農業改良場
Hualien Branch, Soil and Water Conservation Bureau = 水保局花蓮分局
Paterongan = 新社部落
Endemic Species Research Institute = 特有生物研究保育中心
Director-General Lin Hwa-ching = 林華慶局長
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