Case studies > Dr.Koji Nakamura Interview

Interview with Dr.Koji Nakamura
Photo of Nakamura Dr. Koji Nakamura (Doctor of Agriculture)
Assistant President of Kanazawa University,
Director, the Institute of Nature and Environment Technology
Q Your speciality is on the population dynamics of insects. What findings do you expect from remote sensing techniques?
Q I started my career as a researcher from the agricultural department in Kyoto University. We often conducted field work for our research. We did thorough research on the leaves. We counted the number of insects on one leaf. Then, we observed how many eggs were laid and hatched. Furthermore, we traced how many insects grew up and had eggs again; how a species is distributed in an area; does the species, whose population is only 100 for instance, live discretely, or these 100 live together (called hotspot)? This research result is very useful to assess the biodiversity of an area. To comprehend it, we have to see the situation of vegetation, first, and to find the distribution of insects, next, by watching them from an elevated area.
Once I came to know through remote sensing and aerial photos, we can see an extensive area which contains biodiversity of the vegetation and tree species with relatively high resolution. Through field work alone, we can obtain only limited samples within a limited area. But now, I think we are able to complement the data from field research with remote sensing.
If we learn how to deal with a large scale data gathered through remote sensing and how to process it, we can find some vegetation which is very changed and some which is not. Then, it might be interesting to find out the difference in the community of insects between these two places. If we succeed, we may be able to understand the differences in the variety of insects among areas and comprehend the biomass of the whole forest through analyzing the vegetation data gathered through remote sensing.

Q What do you think is needed for the remote sensing techniques to be more effective?
Q We can obtain only rough information through remote sensing. Therefore, we need to analyze the data that we gather through remote sensing. The database of the remote sensing for the land and the ocean has been improved, but there is no database through field works that we can analyze. We at Kanazawa University have implemented various activities with administrative organizations in Ishikawa Pref. However, we often see that valuable data which was obtained by the public sector is not well unified. Given this situation, we can’t use the remote sensing data after all, even if it is really good.
So, I think it is necessary to integrate the data which has been collected by the field researches in order to be able to validate remote sensing data.

Q Kanazawa University has started Satoyama/Satoumi activities in Noto Peninsula as the field area. Please explain its future prospect.
Q In Noto Peninsula, there are typical problems of any rural area, that is, the decreasing and aging population, and increasing abandoned cultivated land. These areas are losing their function as a settlement. Accordingly, deterioration of Satoyam-Satoumi is becoming a critical issue.
On the other hand, there is a great interest in nature in urban cities in Japan. Many people long for nature and countryside, and are food-conscious.
This is the background of the project, Satoyama and Satoumi Activity. It aims to fulfill these needs of people of urban cities in Noto where the original culture is still alive, activate the locality thorough interaction, and establish the Noto model of the sustainable society of the locality together with urban cities. It tries to make this locality more energetic through conservation activities for Satoyama and Satoumi and education and research activities in Noto Peninsula as the field.
Concretely-speaking, in October 1990, we at Kanazawa University inaugurated “Kakuma no Satoyama Nature School” in Kakuma Campus. It aims to utilize the rich natural environment in Kakuma not only as part of University’s curricula, but also for people in the city, then, to plan and implement various environmental studies or volunteer activities. There, we have conducted the environmental study for children in the region, mainly research on biodiversity.
This is the start of “Satoyama-Satoumi Project in Kanazawa University.” Kakuma no Satoyama Nature School has developed as the main activity among Universityr’s local contribution and became a famous activity that represents the university.
The project made the next leap forward by conducting a program named “Noto Satoyama Meister” which started in October 2006. This program aimed to extend our activity beyond the campus to Noto area. With cooperation from Suzu city, we used an abandoned school building and trained people to be farmers with ecological conscious mind.
In April 2008, Ishikawa Pref. and Ishikawa-Kanazawa Operating Unit of United Nations Institute of Advanced Study started to be in coalition with us. With them, we have actively developed Satoyama-Satoumi projects, such as “Satoyama-Satoumi Sub Global Assessment (SGA)” in Japan. I served as a co-chair of the Science Assessment Panel of SGA. SGA’s objectives are to assess the people’s life, techniques and wisdom to preserve the ecosystem, which have lasted in Satoyama and Satoumi in Japan, by the international standard and disseminate its findings to the world.
We reported the outcome of the SGA in Japan at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD/COP10) in Nagoya on October 10, 2010. Also, in October the same year, Noto Operating Unit was established. This unit aims at supporting community-based research and educational activities in Noto with the locality.
One of the research projects in the future is Satoumi. We at Kanazawa University have not worked on Satoumi so much. Therefore, based on what we have done so far and utilizing the circumstances which we have improved, we want to start the research, targeting at “Hokushinetsu Cluster.” This is one of the 5 clusters (regional groups) made by Japan Satoyama Satoumi Assessment, JSSA.
The concept of Satoyama is very old, (dating back to 17c), so, there are many studies done. On the other hand, the concept of Satoumi is very new, originating from 21c. It is defined as “Japan’s coastal areas where human interaction over time has resulted in a higher degree of productivity and biodiversity.” We want to work on the research of this new concept with not only us, the university, but with other researchers from within and without the region through networking and partnership. In Satoyama and Satoumi, their provisioning and regulating services are not complete within a region alone. There is interlinkage between ecosystem services of Satoyama and Satoumi. However, it can be difficult to see clear cause and effect relationships, because of temporal and spatial gaps. This is why we need various researchers in different fields such as those who study coasts and ocean. Furthermore, from technical point of view, aerial pictures should be retrieved easily, temporally and spatially, and an advanced remote sensing technology in which make it possible to analyze data temporally and spatially or GIS technology should be introduced.
Practically, we at Kanazawa University have started making a map of the changes in vegetation in Noto from the archived data of aerial photos.
Thus, the Noto Operating Unit promotes field research and hands-on education. Then, the unit should function as a full-fledged regional center to share the outcomes of our research with the locality and to be the source of “SATOYAMA-SATOUMI” development in the world.
(Interview date: March 1, 2011)