Traditional paddies are great ecosystems

Mar 13, 2011

Traditional paddies are great ecosystems

Japan’s rice-farming areas face two broad trends: field abandonment and farm modernization. Both impact the environment as well as the economy. “When rice fields disappear, species such as tadpoles and dragonflies that live in them decrease. Paddies also store water and help prevent floods. ...

Has rice farming passed its expiry date in Japan?

Mar 13, 2011

Has rice farming passed its expiry date in Japan?

Atsuo Aoki doesn’t appear to be an irrational man. At 52, he works in the banking division of the Japan Agricultural Cooperative (JA) in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, an old castle city at the foot of the Japan Alps about three hours by rail north ...

COP10: A meet to save life on Earth?

Oct 24, 2010

COP10: A meet to save life on Earth?

The next time someone asks you what biodiversity is, try this: “It’s about your life, life on this planet, and about what we’re doing to this planet with our eyes open.” So said United Nations Environment Program Executive Director Achim Steiner on Monday, Oct. ...

Nagoya event can feel far distant from nature

Oct 24, 2010

Nagoya event can feel far distant from nature

I have been in Nagoya attending the U.N. biodiversity confrence, COP10, for nearly a week now (two if you count the pre-COP10 meeting on biosafety, MOP 5), and I think it’s safe to say I haven’t heard mention of an actual animal or plant ...

Some participants' hopes for COP10

Oct 24, 2010

Some participants' hopes for COP10

The Japan Times asked delegates and other COP10 participants what their top priorities are at the conference. Many mentioned an Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Protocol that is currently the subject of intense negotiations. This would determine how companies and researchers gain access to ...

Key facts and figures

Oct 24, 2010

Key facts and figures

Key data drawn from numerous quoted sources here succinctly suggest the enormous range of problems and issues facing delegates to COP10 — and the world. Overview * Current extinction rates are between 100 and 1,000 times higher than the “background rate” shown in the ...

Rustic building fest spans two continents

| Sep 19, 2010

Rustic building fest spans two continents

Back in early August, as families across Japan were beginning to plan trips to their hometowns during the upcoming Obon holidays, Hannes Schnelle of Sarenseck, Germany, and 26 fellow Europeans were preparing for a Japanese journey of their own. On their collective packing list: ...

Way up North

Aug 22, 2010

Way up North

If you’re trying to get to Sarufutsu in a hurry, the best way is to fly into Wakkanai, a blustery little fishing town on the extreme northern tip of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, then rent a car or take the bus east. From ...

Asahiyama's natural touch

Jun 27, 2010

Asahiyama's natural touch

Ivan the polar bear has been having relationship problems recently. The strapping 300-kg, 10-year-old lives at Asahiyama Zoo, a municipal facility on a wooded hillside in the city of Asahikawa, central Hokkaido. The zoo is Japan’s most northerly, and 15 years ago it was ...