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The Environment Ministry said Tuesday it will use the term “satoyama” to explain a new biodiversity policy aimed at preserving areas in which residents have coexisted harmoniously with nature.

According to the ministry, satoyama refers to a type of settlement between an urban and remote mountain area in which people have prospered over a long period by living harmoniously with their natural surroundings.

The term will be explained at the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which is currently being held at The Hague and will run through April 19, ministry officials said.

Commenting on why the term will be introduced at the international conference, a ministry official said: “It is because there was no appropriate English word. But we will be able to introduce to the world environmental situations widely seen in Asia where people and nature coexist.”

The ministry claimed it is vital to preserve the settlements in question because they cover about 40 percent of Japan’s land area. The ministry is also aiming to revitalize natural areas that have been ruined by development.

Satoyama is used to indicate settings that feature rice paddies and wooded areas.

The word has been commonly used, however, as an administrative term to classify a certain land category. The term has been used since 1994, when the then Environment Agency used it in a report on its basic plan for environmental policies.

At the conference, participating countries are expected to adopt a resolution on forest biodiversity and invasive alien species that threaten ecosystems.

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