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What is Satoyama?

Satoyama is a countryside landscape, or socio-ecological production landscape, created and maintained by local agricultural communities for hundreds of years. Satoyama contains a mosaic of mixed forests, rice paddies, plowed fields, grasslands, streams, ponds, and reservoirs for irrigation. Farmers use the grasslands to feed horses and cattle. Streams, ponds, and reservoirs play an important role in adjusting water levels of paddy fields and keeping fish as a food source. People have maintained the forest properly, because the forest gave them wood for construction, cooking and heating, and fallen leaves were used as fertilizer in the rice paddies. Satoyama, which has been developed through centuries of small scale agricultural and forestry use, has also created various habitat types for wildlife, especially for water dependent species. Thus, due to Satoyama's ecosystems, a rich biodiversity in the Japanese rural area has been maintained.

Satoyama was a common landscape in Japan until 50 years ago. In recent years, Satoyama has been disappearing quickly due to land development and deforestation.

Recently Japanese Government acknowledged the importance of Satoyama and proposed the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI) to help preserve Satoyama, where both biodiversity and human well-being are maintained harmoniously. IPSI will be officially launched at COP 10 in Nagoya, Japan.