Year 2010: Kagoshima Environmental Studies II


Kagoshima Environmental Studies Program II
Issues related to the World Heritage Designation of Amami
Many obstacles remain to be cleared


Akira Nishimura

Thoughts on Amami “as my own affair” and environmental studies “as my own affair”

With those who live on Amami island, those who were born on Amami, and in particular those who feel “I have nothing to do with Amami”, I would like to share through this book an awareness of a creeping problem. This is the awareness of the problem I want: I have emphasized the expression “as my own affair” because it is my understanding that we seem to have lost the links between nature, human relations and historical relations.

In our present daily life we take it for granted that “we get water if we turn on a faucet” and “gasoline is available at a gas station.” In our daily life we have come to be able to live without paying attention to these things that support this lifestyle as a matter of course. Actually, there is no need for us to walk many kilometers to search for water sources, to draw water and to bring it home. We rarely feel the need for such things except during times of disasters. When we fill gas into our cars, we never pay attention to the question of which oil field this particular gas is from, or how that oil field has been developed. Even without having considered the relevant consequences, most people just get on the road and go. We are now conducting our lives unconsciously unlinked with many of the interactions with nature we previously felt explicitly. We have lost our imagination to realize this link. It may be the proof of “happiness” in a sense, but from an alternative view, we must say that we live happily in the dark or we are “too optimistic”.

This means that we have not only lost the sense of crisis against a potential that may threaten our daily lives, but also we have to face the fact that we have no grasp on the wealth spread out in front of us. In fact we only know too little about what constitutes ourself and what is linked to this self.

Therefore, I want to suggest considering all things “as our own affairs.” This will improve our imaginative power. The imaginative power used here refers to the power or skill to find wealth in ourselves while we discover Amami by overlapping our daily lives with global environmental issues.

This book is the second volume of the “Kagoshima Environmental Studies Program” series, which are scheduled to be published in three volumes. This time we have focused on Amami in our discussion. It may not include all the problems or attractive points of Amami. However, the extensive discussions have to do with Amami’s forests and the earth, water and ocean, flora and fauna, agriculture, culture and education. The recognition of Amami as a national park or a world natural heritage site is close at hand. The wealth of Amami’s nature and community as well as their problems are discussed by Kagoshima University researchers, journalists and government officers.

At the end of the book is a summary of an open seminar put on by the Kagoshima Environmental Studies Program called “World Natural Heritage and the New Era of Amami” held in Amami City on September 26th, 2009. This event embraced the inner voices of the Amami islands and perspectives from outside.

It would be wonderful if people on Amami, through this book, could realize the richness and current environmental status of the area where they live and make use of these facts as a clue for their future endeavors. And those who live outside Amami could reconsider the link, society and history between their own environment and Amami through each one of the topics listed in this book. I am certain that the Amami islands are fated to reveal for us a great deal of its depth of ties between nature and culture. And this will potentially provide a mirror that will straightforwardly reflect the status of the era and the earth on which we live.

■Kagoshima Environmental Studies II
Table of contents

Preface Akira Nishimura

Feature Article 1
Viewing Amami from an environmental perspective

1. Considering Amami with the environment as a pivot Hiroshi Onodera
2. The environment considered from Amami’s viewpoint Akira Nishimura
Feature Article 2
Searching for present-day Amami

1. Geology: Reading the topography of the Amami Islands Ryusuke Imura

2. Botany: Plants of the Amami archipelago Junko Miyamoto

3. Oceanography: landscape viewed from the boundaries between ocean and land in the Amami archipelago Kei Kawai

4. Alien invasive species: problems of mongoose and other alien species
Masaya Tatara

5. Agriculture: Agriculture on Amami Fusako Kadota

6. Education: A thought on environmental education on Amami  Yuko Oguri

> Amami from the perspective of literature

Satsuma natural history and Amami

> National parks and World Heritage
The road towards designation of the World Natural Heritage site
Image of the national park of Amami

> Research note
Collaboration between a primitive island and the state-of-the-art electric vehicles  ? Efforts in zero emissions on Yakushima ? Tomoaki Arimura

A study about water quality conservation II
? Water quality conservation activities and a thought on environmental culture ?          Jiro Iwata

Activities carried out by Kagoshima Environmental Studies Working Group
Declaration of Kagoshima Environmental Studies Program
Abstract of an open seminar on Amami

Postscript Hiroshi Onodera