Natural Environment Conservation

Natural Environment Conservation

[Goal 13] Climate Action
[Goal 14] Life Below Water
[Goal 15] Life On Land

Inheriting the Bounty of Nature to the Future Generations

Objective of JICA Global Agenda

Pursuing the harmony between human and nature, preventing ecosystem loss or degradation, for the society being able to enjoy the blessings of the nature in years to come

Background and Challenges

(1) Deforestation and forest degradation

Forests cover 30% of the world's terrestrial area, or 4 billion hectares, and have a variety of important functions such as biodiversity conservation, water source recharge and carbon fixation, but they continue to decline due to land-use change, mainly caused by human activities such as environmentally unfriendly agricultural activities. In recent years, the rate of global decline has slowed down thanks to large-scale afforestation in some areas, but tropical forests in Africa and South America continue to show a marked downward trend.
This results in 11% of global carbon dioxide emissions from forest degradation and deforestation, increasing the risk of disasters due to reduced water source recharge and land conservation functions, loss of biodiversity and poverty in poor areas that are highly dependent on natural resources.

(2) Decline and degradation of the natural environment of wetlands

The environment of wetlands, which are extremely important ecosystems for biodiversity conservation, has changed significantly, mainly due to changes in land use. Of the wetlands that existed in 1700, 87% had been lost by 2000, resulting in the loss of valuable biodiversity. In addition, the peat in wetlands is said to store a lot of carbon, but the desiccation of the soil and fires by agricultural activities have resulted in the release of large amounts of greenhouse gases, making conservation measures an urgent necessity.

(3) Decline and degradation of the natural environment in coastal areas

Marine areas, especially coastal areas, are important ecosystems with high productivity and rich biodiversity, but mangrove forests, for example, have been reduced by approximately 1 million hectares, or 7% of the total area, over the past 30 years due to conversion to shrimp farms and other uses. Coral reefs and seagrass beds have also been degraded by the inflow of sediment from land areas and other reasons. This has resulted in the loss of habitats for many organisms, loss of livelihoods for coastal residents and damage to functions such as mitigation of natural disasters such as tidal waves, storm surges and tsunamis.

(4) Significance of Japan and JICA's efforts

For developing countries, which depend on the natural environment and have many deprived areas vulnerable to the effects of changes in the natural environment, degradation of the natural environment is a human security issue as it threatens human lives and livelihoods through depletion and contamination of resources such as food and water, loss of production infrastructure and the occurrence of natural disasters. At the same time, it is a global issue that transcends national borders, such as being a contributing factor to climate change, and has become a problem that significantly affects the development and lives of people in countries all over the world, including Japan.
In Japan, around the middle of the Edo period (1603-1868), the forest coverage fell to around 50% due to excessive use of timber and other factors, resulting in frequent natural disasters. However, with the establishment of related systems and technological advances since the late Edo period, the forest coverage has now recovered to 70%. In addition, despite Japan's high population density and limited land area, approximately 400 nature parks have been designated and excellent practices of nature conservation and nature use are being implemented. In this way, Japan's experience in balancing economic development and nature conservation since the Meiji era (1868-), together with the latest technologies such as Japan's satellite technology in recent years, can contribute to the conservation of the natural environment.

Focus Areas (“Cluster Strategy”)

(1) Sustainable Natural Resource Management on Land (Initiative for Forest-based Solutions)

By 2030, we aim to strengthen the system of more than 40 agencies in the central/local government responsible for terrestrial nature conservation and train 10,000 administrative officers and others.

(2) Sustainable Natural Resource Management in Coastal Areas (Initiative for Sea-based Solutions)

We will conserve and restore mangrove forests and coral reefs, especially in coastal areas of island countries and tropical regions.

By 2030, we aim to have strengthened the structures of more than eight institutions in central/local government responsible for the conservation of the natural environment in coastal areas and to have trained 2,000 administrative officers and others.