Members of the JICA project “Sustainable Development for Preservation of Biodiversity and Ecosystems,” which has been carried out in Sabah State, Malaysia, visited Ishikawa prefecture. Their project has focused on the preservation of ecosystems as a main activity of the program for the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in Borneo from 2002 through 2012, and in 2012 they shifted to sustainable preservation activities for the benefit and integration of regional people. The study visit focused on “ Strengthening of environmental communication towards a society in harmony with nature” as the main policy for the preservation of biodiversity. The delegation was made up of administrative officers from Sabah State and citizens’ organizations. They visited places all over Japan to study activities that promoted coexistence with nature, and received a lecture about Satoyama-satoumi at the United Nations University in Tokyo. Subsequently, they took part in a program coordinated by OUIK, which involved visiting places in Ishikawa to experience Satoyama-satoumi activities for the preservation of biodiversity.
In the Noto area, the visiting delegation studied the “Satoyama-satoumi Meister Program,” run by Kanazawa University and the Suzu City government. The program involves the training of human resources, activities that promote coexistence with nature conducted by Suzu City government, and experience of life in the farmers’ houses of Shun-ran-no-sato. They also studied activities of the team Maruyama-gumi, which included monitoring of biodiversity by local residents, and providing opportunities to study traditional rituals related to agriculture. When the visitors participated in a Maruyama-gumi workshop for surveying living things and participating in activities in collaboration with local residents, a delegation member commented that those activities were sustainable for local residents, and that they wished to use Maruyama-gumi’s activities as a model for activities in their country.
In the Hakusan area, the delegation visited Ôta Farm, where the brand-name rice “Watatsu Firefly Rice” is cultivated without using agricultural chemicals. The area is known as a habitat for fireflies. Mr. Ôta spoke about the hardship he endured until he mastered organic farming methods. A delegation member asked him about the possibility of expanding the cultivation area.
On the last day, the group participated in a workshop for summarizing what they had learnt during their tour in Ishikawa. They identified important elements such as leadership, sufficient communication with community, agriculture, knowledge about ecosystems, high service quality and conservation of traditional culture, and then applied these to policies and activities in Sabah State.
The study tour, which involved visits to activity sites and exchanging ideas with people in the region, was significant not only for the delegation but also for OUIK, who hosted the visitors; we gained a new perspective on our activities.