Mr. Christopher Briggs, Secretary General and Mr. Lew Young, Senior Regional Advisor for Asia-Oceania of the Ramsar Convention visited Tsuruga city from April 8th and had an observation tour of Nakaikemi shicchi wetland with guides of local groups on April 9th 2014.
Staff from Tsuruga city, Ministry of the Environment of Japan, Fukui prefecture, Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency (JRTT), officers in charge of the bullet train project of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLITT) as well as media also joined this observation tour.
Mr. Briggs, Secretary General is interested in plants and he was observing a mountain path with barrenwort(Epimodium sempervirens) and noble orchid(Cymbidiam goeringii) before the tour was started from a visitor center. After an explanation of wetland by the local groups, rich fauna and flora including buckbean(Menyanthes trifloiate), batrachospermum gelatinosoum, heron, and killfish, waterscorpion(Laccotrephes japonensis) was observed in the wetland, and diverse and rich water environment was showed such as spring water, irrigation ponds, corridors of water, rice fields, ponds, and conservation area where invasive alien species measure taken place.
Mr Briggs pointed out that the future vision of this site should be discussed and shared. The whole part of Nakaikemi shicchi was used to be cultivated as rice paddy fields by local people but it became a public land owned by Tsuruga city and designated as international protected wetland under Ramsar Convention. Therefore, we are going to discuss about the future vision of Nakaikemi shicchi as a Ramsar site with today’s experience and opinions on the occasion of Conservation planning committee meeting which starts from next month.
About the construction plan for Hokuriku Shinkansen Bullet Train, I and members from local groups showed the routes plan in 2002 which was subject to environmental impact assessment, and routes plan in 2012 which was newly revised. We checked the places of the route on the map and the sites with the Secretary General.
We explained that the newly revised plan (2012) route will break down the Ushirodani valley by tunneling work and pass through the mountain which is water source of the wetland. Also, we introduced that Ushirodani valley is biologically important area as corridor which connects between Nakaikemi-shicchi and its outer habitats.
After the observation tour, Mr. Briggs, Secretary General said that “I founded that it was very rich site with enormous diversity in water and obviously very rich in species too. I think it is very important to maintain the quality and ecological character of these sites by reducing as much as possible external impact. Also it would be better that the railway took the original line and not across over this beautiful valley.
We need to discuss about the route plan more and the construction should be done mindfully for natural environment. Because this is the sites of international importance which Japan has committed to protect through ratification of the Convention. So we need to make sure that this site maintains this quality for the long term in sustainable manner.”.
Furthermore, there was a question that infrastructure development would be the part of “wise use”. He answered that “Japan has already developed their infrastructure well. It is also important to balance the nature against development and finding the way to make the least damage to the environment in well developed countries. At least, the construction route should be changed not to passing through the Ushirodani valley”.
The memorial symposium of the Ramsar Secretary General visitation to Japan will be held in Tokyo, tomorrow. The member of NACS-J will also attend the symposium. We expect that the symposium can be a good opportunity to get the international knowledge of conservation of wetland not only the issues on Nakaikemi shicchi but also all over the country.