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Panel 3 Paper 3.2: Nature, agriculture and rural resilience: Interdependencies between natural protected areas and rural landscapes in Satoyama/Satoumi in Japan

The Capacity Building Workshops on Nature-Culture Linkages in Heritage Conservation (CBWNCL), held at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, gather Asia-Pacific heritage professionals with the aim of creating a platform of mutual-learning and exchange between the culture and nature sectors. In the first workshop on Agricultural Landscapes, from 14 case studies, 5 showed natural protected areas in tense relations with their rural landscape surroundings. However, these agricultural landscapes are essential for protecting natural values, as they form part of their larger ecosystems. In the second workshop on Sacred Landscapes, from 16 case studies, 5 case studies were also agricultural landscapes, and 8 case studies featured natural protected areas which embody spiritual values for their surrounding rural communities. In the third workshop on Disasters and Resilience, from 15 case studies, 7 presented the struggles faced by rural communities in the conservation of their natural environment and their cultural practices in a context of increasing disasters. By looking at the Japanese experience, we learned from the concepts of Satoyama and Satoumi, that the protection of nature can be interlinked with the maintenance of agricultural landscapes, that the continuity of spiritual practices is essential for identity and community cohesion, and that the maintenance of cultural practices represent community’s strength for post-disaster recovery. These lessons demonstrated that resilience lies in people and their community networks -beyond human, and underpinned on their natural and cultural heritage (both tangible and intangible)-, and that the stronger these networks are, and the more autonomy and decision-making power is recognized at local level, the higher level of resilience a landscape would show. This finding, however, raises concern, as these landscapes are facing pressures not only from urban development, but mostly from depopulation due to migration and ageing communities, processes that are eroding these networks and consequently, rural landscape resilience.