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2009年6月 7日 (日)

生物多様性 我々の暮らしの源を守りたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jun. 7, 2009)
Biodiversity supports people's daily lives
生物多様性 我々の暮らしの源を守りたい(6月7日付・読売社説)

We must keep in mind that preventing species from going extinct and maintaining ecosystems helps humanity thrive.

The government recently compiled a white paper on biodiversity, the first of its kind. The report sounds an alarm over the extinction of animals and plants taking place globally due to deforestation and other factors.

The natural world could not exist without a rich variety of living creatures. Ecosystems are maintained through myriad links, such as the food chain, in which frogs eat insects and snakes eat frogs.

If more and more species become extinct and the ecological balance is lost, the lives of human beings will be significantly affected because we count on nature to provide our food. The white paper should serve as a catalyst for people to think about the importance of protecting biodiversity.

Destruction of the natural environment due to rapid land development became noticeable in the nation in the past. But in recent years, development projects that place importance on protection of the natural environment have become common. A pressing issue now seems to be the conservation and revitalization of areas called satoyama--woodlands near human habitats.


Satoyama being neglected

Satoyama symbolize the coexistence of people and nature. People living in satoyama areas have used the natural bounty there to support their lives by, for example, making charcoal with trees they cut down and using fallen leaves as fertilizer.

But in recent years, depopulation in mountainous areas and other factors have resulted in the neglect of satoyama. Many satoyama areas have become overrun with bamboo. Satoyama also serve as habitats for indigenous animals and plants. The desolation of satoyama has had a significant impact on ecosystems.

The Environment Ministry has been conducting research on which satoyama areas require conservation and restoration work, and what kind of restoration work has already been conducted in satoyama. Imaginative efforts are needed to widely promote effective restoration projects.

The proliferation of black bass and other creatures of foreign origin also is a major problem. There have been many cases reported of nonnative species kept as pets breeding after they were abandoned by their owners.

It is costly to exterminate nonnative species, but discontinuation of such work means returning to the original, problematic state. It will be no easy task to find a good solution to this problem.


Global perspective needed

This nation is heavily dependent on imported food. Seafood, meat and grain put on the table are harvested from a variety of natural life-forms from around the world. A global perspective is needed when it comes to thinking about how to maintain ecosystems.

Signatory nations to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which Japan has ratified, set a goal of significantly reducing the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. A conference of parties to the convention is scheduled to be held in October 2010 in Nagoya.

International cooperation is essential to protect biodiversity. Strategies and steps must be found to tackle the issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 7, 2009)
(2009年6月7日01時53分  読売新聞)


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