Environmental conservation and regional improvement in Aso

Overview

Aso green stock has considered vast green land in Aso as a public-shared life resource (green stock). It was established in April 1995 to protect Aso’s green stock through the cooperation of cities, agricultural community, companies and local government to turn it over to future generations. It was certified as a public interest incorporated foundation in April 2011. It is managed by various parties including: seven mayors of municipalities in Aso as well as corporations and organizations in Kumamoto such as JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives), co-op (consumers’ cooperative society), YMCA, medical association, labor union, banks and various other enterprises.
Their main projects are as follows:Aso one thousand-year grassland conservation activities carried out with cooperation of local farmers, city residents, companies and local government:
Grassland in Aso is maintained and managed by about 175 pasture unions and communities of local stakeholders. They face the challenges of declining numbers of cattle farmers and lack of manpower due to aging and de-population. Aso Green stock called for urban residents to engage in a field burning support volunteer program in 1999 and in 2000 it formally launched the “Field burning support volunteer group”. More than 2000 people have participated in its activities as of 2010. Now this group has become essential for the conservation of grassland in Aso. Volunteer activities have continued thanks to the cooperation and partnership of local farmers (shared work), corporations (various financial support and provision of staff), local government (communication and arrangement with local pasture union), associations and urban residents. Since 2010 they have been entrusted by the Ministry of the Environment and continue to make efforts to research the current conditions of grassland-type marsh and to formulate future conservation plan.
Actions to protect the water resource and urban and rural areas exchange:
In addition to grassland conservation activities in Aso, this foundation carries on “Broadleaf tree planting program to protect water resource in Aso.” This program brings together corporations and local government and provides environmental education for local and urban children and exchange activities between urban and rural areas such as agricultural experience and farmhouse stay.
Specialty products sale and financing for Akaushi (red cow) farmers:
City residents cooperate with cattle farmers to conduct “Akaushi owner system” to increase grazing Akaushi that is necessary for maintaining grassland in Aso.
Other activities include:
Conduct a variety of research and studies for environmental conservation and grassland maintenance in Aso area, provide accommodation for volunteers, villagers’ members and public at “Aso Yutattomura”, maintain an exchange center between cities and farming villages, product sale, entrusted research and more.

Points about the partnership

Local pasture union highly appreciates the many enthusiastic urban volunteers who have participated in field burning activities. Locals realize that it is very hard work. By being reported by the media, the program has expanded opportunities and it has increased the number of participants of young students and local citizens. The program has also improved several projects including profit-making service and it has built a system that allows multiple agents to be easily involved in its activities.

Category

Based on efforts at ‘co-action’ (cooperative action) by diverse actors

Theme 

Sustainable regional construction, establishment of cyclical society, biological diversity

Actors 

Public interest incorporated foundation “Aso green stock”

Partners 

Supporting companies, organizations, local government, municipality and environmental organizations

Relevant website

Tsunakan 16th issue “Environmental conservation and regional improvement in Aso with a cooperation between city, farmland, companies and local government”
http://www.geoc.jp/information/tsunakan/index/tsuna16-2