From JAWAN's Report

Case Study : Kabukuri-numa

- Wetland restoration project by local NGO -


Japan Wetlands Action Network (JAWAN)


From JAWAN's Report to the 7th Ramsar Conference of the Parties, Costa Rica, May 1999. Please contact JAWAN for a copy of this report:

Maggie Suzuki (
Kashiwagi Minoru (

See JAWAN's home page at:

Case Study : Kabukuri-numa

- Wetland restoration project by local NGO -


The local government authority that manages the Izunuma/Uchinuma Ramsar site has so far resisted drawing on the talents of a local NGO that is one of Japan's most innovative and effective non-governmental organizations, the Japanese Association for Wild Geese Protection (JAWGP).

JAWGP has turned its attentions to another goose habitat site in Miyagi prefecture, Kabukuri-numa, about 8 kilometers from Izunuma/Uchinuma. Tajiri Township, in which the site is located, will propose Kabukuri-numa for designation to the Anatidae Site Network in the East Asian Flyway.

In 1996, when JAWGP learned that Kabukuri-numa would be dredged as a floodwater catchment reservoir, it initiated nature observation outings and meetings with the local, prefectural and national government authorities and legislators, local schoolchildren, teachers and college students, farmers and other stakeholders. Their object was to present the option of preserving the ecosystem of the marsh while allowing it to function as a floodwater retention area. As a result, a diverse array of local people became involved, and in time dedicated to conserving the site.

A program in which farmers have converted to organic methods to lighten pollution loads and leave their fields flooded over the winter for the benefit of wintering waterbirds is under way. The dredging plan has been converted in practice into a plan for managing the site to maintain its ecological functions.

Various complex obstacles were overcome to allow an adjacent area, formerly part of the wetland but reclaimed for agriculture, to be returned to management as a wetland. Simply by allowing rainwater to collect, the 50ha. area has in a few short seasons come to support a wide diversity of plant and animal life. One result has been a large increase in the number of geese recorded at the site. About 30,000 geese are now being recorded wintering at Kabukuri Marsh. Many of these also the use the Izunuma Ramsar site, though an increasing number are coming to spend more time at Kabukuri-numa.

JAWGP is working with Tajiri Township to facilitate the transfer of the official managing authority from the River Management Department of Miyagi Prefecture to a local public corporation, which would allow a managing committee that includes all stakeholders, including NGOs and citizens, to manage the site under a local ordinance.

JAWGP has always maintained that the concentration of geese at Izunuma/Uchinuma has been a result of the lack of alternate sites. Protection and restoration of Kabukuri-numa, initiated and catalyzed by JAWGP, shows that Japan's wintering geese population can be protected and increased by restoring more habitat sites.

Some types of wetlands may be more compatible to restoration than others, and every restoration project has its own particular set of circumstances. However, it seems safe to say that mutually respectful cooperation among NGOs, local citizens & educators, and authorities at all levels may be the best way to determine the optimal course.