Led by Prof. Dr. Yokohari Makoto and supported by Lecturer Dr. Terada Toru and Assist. Prof. Dr. Tanaka Toshinori
More than ever, the world’s population is living in urban areas and the demand to resolve major urban sustainability challenges was never greater. Therefore, planning studies have been recognized as indispensable topics in the field of sustainability science. Research conducted in the Group of Landscape and Environmental Planning organized by Prof. Dr. Yokohari Makoto and supported by Lecturer Dr. Terada Toru and Assistant professor Dr. Tanaka Toshinori aims to achieve scientific solutions for issues on landscape planning, ecological planning, environmental planning, urban agriculture, and cultural landscapes. Between April 2012 and April 2017, three doctoral students and eight master students have worked on the following three core topics: (1) biodiversity, (2), urban agriculture, and (3) vacant lots.
Have you ever considered the difference between “continuity” and “sustainability”? Continuity refers to the perpetuation of an existing state or condition, without change, by an individual, a group, or society at large. In contrast, sustainability refers to the dynamic maintenance of a certain state or condition that, while it may experience any number of short-term or minor fluctuations, is not subject to major deterioration over a longer-term.
The field of landscape planning has long framed landscapes as visual entities that should be “continued”. However, to face the challenges of global climate change, rapid population growth and urbanization, and food and resource shortages, contemporary landscape planning is shifting its target to the creation of “sustainable” landscapes that are resilient to various bio-physical and socio-cultural fluctuations.
Our research group is opening new paths to sustainable landscape planning in diverse and exciting areas; including studies on contemporary urban agriculture in Japan, Asia, Africa, North America and Europe, biomass recycling systems in urban fringe areas, and ecological restoration of abandoned forest patches and vacant lots in urban and urban fringe areas. Although we are conducting research in diverse areas, the members of our group are linked by a passion to achieve sustainable landscapes in Japan, Asia and beyond.
The field of biodiversity conservation originated from the standpoint of minimizing human contact with relatively pristine ecosystems. However, increasing habitat loss, and the realization that current protected areas are ineffective in halting species decline have cast spotlight on the possibility of utilizing urban areas for biodiversity conservation. One study in this group aimed to deepen the understanding of red-list species conservation measures that originated from developed countries in the global North and are broadly applied to cities throughout the world despite their unique socio-ecological characteristics. The results highlighted the need for contextualized urban biodiversity conservation, especially in urban green-spaces (i.e. manicured landscapes) within cities like Singapore and Tokyo (23 Wards). Another study focused on the conflicting relationship between the indigenous Sami people of northern Sweden that depend on reindeer herding for their livelihood and the re-establishment of the wolf, polarizing various stakeholders, as well as causing negative consequences for the Sami in terms of them having achieved an image as “wolf haters”.
The research topics completed within this group were entitled:
Manicured landscape in Singapore lacking a contextualized urban biodiversity conservation strategy (2014)
Field survey in Vasterbotten, northern Sweden (March 13th, 2014)
Khew, Y.T.J., Yokohari, M., Tanaka, T. 2014.Public Perception of Nature and Landscape Preference in Singapore. Human Ecology 42:979-988. 2015 Impact Factor: 1.604.
Khew, Y.T.J., Jazebski, M., Fatma, D., San Carlos, R. et al. 2015. Assessment of Social Perception on the Contribution of Hard-Infrastructure for Tsunami Mitigation to Coastal Community Resilience after the 2010 Tsunami: Greater Concepcion Area, Chile. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 13: 324-333. 2015 Impact Factor: 1.242.
Khew, Y.T.J., Shogo, K., Jarzebski, M.P., Yokohari, M. 2016. The Efficacy of Voluntary Standards Certification Standards for Biodiversity Conservation. Policy Matters 21: 25-43.
Teah, H.Y., Akiyama, T., San Carlos, R., Rayo, O.R., Khew, Y.T.J., Zhao, S., Zeng, L., Onuki, M. 2017. Assessment of Downscaling Planetary Boundaries to Semi-Arid Ecosystems with a Local Perception: A Case Study in the Middle Reaches of Heihe River. Sustainability 8, 1233; doi:10.3390/su8121233. 2015 Impact Factor: 1.343.
Yokohari, M., Khew, Y.T.J. 2016. Landscape design for resilient cities in Asia: Lessons from Integrated rural-urban land-use in Japan. In: Yokohari, M., Murakami A., Hara, Y., Tsuchiya, K. (Eds). Sustainable Landscape Planning in Selected Urban Regions.Springer.
Sjoegren, A., Matsuda, H. “Seeing the Wolf through Sami Eyes – Understanding Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conflict in Northern Sweden” International Journal of Sustainable Future for Human Security (J-SustaiN) 4.1 (2016): 35-49
Khew, Y.T.J., 2016: Dean’s Award, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo
Khew, Y.T.J., 2013: Graduate Program in Sustainability Science, Award for Exemplary Performance in Research and Academics, The University of Tokyo
Khew, Y.T.J., 2005: Sembawang Shipyard’s Greenwave Environmental Care Project: Merit Award
Khew, Y.T.J., 2004: Nanyang Technological University Technology and Engineering Research Programme: Merit
Sjoegren, A., Best Paper Award, “Seeing the Wolf through Sami Eyes – Understanding Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conflict in Northern Sweden” Sustain Conference 2015, Bali
From sustainability science point of view there are still many discoveries to be made related to urban agriculture. Six students in the Group of Landscape and Environmental Planning have investigated the topic of urban agriculture in Japan, Jakarta, the U.S.A., and Thailand with methods borrowed from social sciences and urban engineering. The research in this group aims to challenge the conventional assumptions around urban agriculture. One research aimed to quantify the seasonal nutrient production of urban agricultural vegetables and the resulting nutritional self-sufficiency throughout the year for mitigating post-disaster situations. The results showed that when focusing on vulnerable populations, a significant amount of nutrients can be provided. Another study focused on urbanization processes in Jakarta that contributed to the emergence of a mixture of urban and rural land uses in peri urban zones. These areas were defined as desakota (rural = desa, and city = kota). In this research, the aim was to understand the persistence of remnant agriculture towards urbanization in desakota region of Jakarta Metropolitan Area. It was found that in one of the study areas, most of the farmlands are owned by housing developers that are leasing the lands to tenant-farmer for cultivation in anticipation of the right timing for development.
The following six topics have fallen under the category of urban agriculture:
Conducting fieldwork and interviews in Nerima ward during an emergency drill, Tokyo (November 12, 2016)
Global Field Exercise (GFE) Chiang Mai unit 2017. Collaboration between The university of Tokyo, Japan with Chualalongkorn University and Chiang Mai university, Thailand on the Sustainable agriculture and local food system topic (February 12-23, 2017)
The participatory rural planning activity for the collective farming project. Tarumajaya Village, Bandung Regency, West Java Province, Indonesia (October 2014)
Community farm “Keep Growing”, Detroit, U.S.A. (June 2017)
Sioen G.B., Sekiyama, M., Terada, T., Yokohari, M. (2017) Post-disaster dietary nutrition from urban agriculture in Japan: A seasonal scenario analysis of Nerima ward, Tokyo. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Plieninger, T., Kohsaka, R., Bieling, C., Hashimoto, S., Kamiyama, C., Kizos, T., Penker, M., Kieninger, P., Shaw, B. J., Sioen, G. B., Yoshida, Y., Saito, O. (2017) Fostering biocultural diversity in landscapes through place-based food networks: A “solution scan” of European and Japanese models. Journal of Sustainability Science.
Sioen, G. B., Terada, T., and Yokohari, M. (2016) Sustainability Science as the Next Step in Developing Urban Planning. In M. Esteban, T. Akiyama, C. Chen, & E. Mutisya (Eds). Sustainability Science: Field Methods and Exercises. Springer International Publishing. pp. 117-135.
Allasiw, D., Yoshida, Y., Sioen, G. B., Castro, R., Palopakon, Y., Tanaka, T., Terada, T., Iida, A. and Yokohari, M. (2016) Costa Rica’s PES policy: changing focus from increasing forest quantity to improving the quality of environmental services. In M. Esteban, T. Akiyama, C. Chen, & E. Mutisya (Eds). Sustainability Science: Field Methods and Exercises. Springer International Publishing. pp. 41-64.
Carlos R. S., Tyunina, O., Yoshida Y., Mori A., Sioen G. B., Yang J. (2016) Assessment of Fieldwork Methodologies for Educational Purposes in Sustainability Science: Exercise on Resilience, Tohoku Unit 2015. In M. Esteban, T. Akiyama, C. Chen, & E. Mutisya (Eds). Sustainability Science: Field Methods and Exercises. Springer International Publishing. pp. 67-91.
Sioen, G.B., Terada, T., Yokohari, M. Neighborhood self-sufficiency in Tokyo : How much can hobby farms contribute? In Tappert, Simone (ed.) (2016): Growing in Cities. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Urban Gardening. Peer reviewed Conference Proceedings. Basel: University of Applied Sciences. pp 440-452.
Sioen, G.B. (2016) Urban Agriculture and its potentials in times of large earthquakes. Green Power Magazine (In Japanese). pp. 22.
Sioen G.B., Graduate School of Sustainability Science – Global Leadership Initiative, The University of Tokyo, poster review session, Best Poster Award for the poster entitled ”Urban agriculture for resilient megacities: An increase of disaster preparedness with dietary nutrition”, Kashiwa-no-ha, 2017
Sioen G.B., The 5th GPSS-GLI international symposium on “Framing in Sustainability Research and Education” Best Poster Award for the poster entitled: “Earthquakes in megacities: How can sustainability science improve urban planning to increase food resilience?”, 2016
Sioen G.B., Graduate School of Frontier Sciences Academic Research Grant, the University of Tokyo, 2016
Vacant lots are part of every urban fabric; however, vacant lots bring about challenges for the local population and government. The problem is extrapolated in a country such as Japan, which is experiencing a population decline and aging society. Therefore, this group explores alternative planning methods – such as compact city- that are able to adapt shrinkage as a planning strategy. In Japan, the vacant housing number has a continuous increasing from the year 1958. The national vacant house rate reached 13.5% in year 2013. If allowed to progress, the national vacant house rate will increase to 28.5% in twenty years later. One study aimed to combine a municipal-level survey of land use with a neighborhood-level survey of residential conditions, to better understand the process of vacant lot accumulation and characteristics of suburban residents. It aims to identify and maximize the potential social and environmental impacts of emerging vacant lots for each of the patterns derived. Another study in this category aimed to estimate the biomass potential from housing dismantlement by considering the future urban planning direction. In that study, a strategic dismantlement was pursued based on specific criteria in the area rather than having it deteriorate. Finally, a scenario analysis allowed for the creation of a model empowering decision makers to find alternative functions on the emerging vacant lots. More specifically, the following topics have been explored within this group:
A vacant lot in a shrinking suburban district utilized quite intensively for vegetable gardening, potted plants and bonsai farming in Ushiku City, Ibaraki (September 2014)
Interview conducted for the Green Studio to understand the situation of local urban agriculture on vacant lots, Kashiwa City (June 2016)
Picture taken after collecting soil samples (October 2015)
Yamada, C., Terada, T., Tanaka, T. & Yokohari, M., 2016, Directions for Vacant Lot Management in the Outer Suburbs of the Tokyo Metropolitan Region, Urban and Regional Planning Review, Vol. 3, pp.64-84