Toru Terada: History and current conservation practices of urban satoyama

We are delighted to invite you to the public seminar of Prof. Toru Terada (The University of Tokyo) on the occation of his guest researcher visit at the Commission for Interdisciplinary Ecological Studies (KIOES) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW)!

When: March 16th, 2017, 13:15
Venue: Seminar room, Institute of Forest Ecology, Wilhelm-Exner Haus, 2nd floor, Peter Jordanstr. 82, 1190 Vienna

Satoyama, a Japanese term which combines Sato (village) and Yama (forest), is forest historically maintained by rural communities for obtaining firewood and other organic materials for sustaining their lives. Satoyama has changed drastically due to the wide spread use of fossil fuels and urbanization accelerated from 1960s, and the weakened relation between rural communities and satoyama causes abandonment of forest maintenance. In contrast, urban communities have great interest in re-maintaining satoyama currently, and their practices revive satoyama as a multi-functional urban forest. The lecture will explain the transformation history of satoyama from rural to urban and introduces some issues that currently discussed in relevant researches both domestically and internationally.

Image credit: (c) Toshihiko Nakamura

Toru Terada is lecturer of the department of natural environmental studies, university of Tokyo. His background is landscape architecture and urban planning. His current research interest includes community based urban forestry, urban agriculture, and its connection to local energy and food policies.

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Coppice forest management in Austria and Japan

Finally we are happy to present result of our ongoing collaboration. The previous blog entry on soil studies in the Satoyama woodlands near Kashiwa (Carbon dynamics in satoyama woodlands) sheds some light on various fieldwork activities. These resulted in a comparative paper where we analyze the historic development, current status and future perspectives for these unique ecosystems in a periurban context. In addition we were able to confirm an alteration in soil chemistry after conversion of stands managed as coppice to high forest in Japan.

The stand characteristics, including distribution of the dominating genera shows remarkable similarities between Austria and Japan. This was also confirmed in terms of carbon stocks in biomass, but the stocks of soil organic carbon were higher in Japan as a consequence of soil properties. We conclude that a controlled re-activation of traditional Satoyama forest management, inluding coppicing, may unlocks potentials for biomass production while increasing biodiversity. However, this requires careful planning and meaningful balancing of economical, environmental and societal expectations.

The publication “Overmature periurban Quercus–Carpinus coppice forests in Austria and Japan: a comparison of carbon stocks, stand characteristics and conversion to high forest” is available at Springer Link:, doi:10.1007/s10342-016-0979-2.

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Carbon dynamics in satoyama woodlands

In the second half of February, right after the unusual snowfall event, we were conducting fieldwork in an Japanese satoyama woodland near Tokyo. There is an active collaboration with Asst. Prof. Toru Terada from Tokyo University, Department of Natural Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Science and Dr. Viktor Bruckman, Austrian Academy of Sciences. The actual study site is in close proximity to the Kashiwa campus of Tokyo University. 

Prof Terada previously studied the biomass potential of Satoyama woodlands and therefore investigated aboveground carbon pools. Such coppice-based woodlands once played an important role as source for fuelwood, but its significance soon ceased after the utilization of fossil fuels. As a consequence of climate change debates and the need for sustainable and renewable sources for energy, there is increased interest in the biomass production potential of such systems again, a trend which can be observed worldwide. Dr. Bruckman is a specialist for belowground carbon dynamics which were not included in the earlier study, as well as plant nutrition. Since soil fertility is a major factor in stand productivity and the soil carbon dynamics determine the carbon sequestration potential, Prof. Terada and Dr. Bruckman soon realized that joint efforts and access to their respective expertise may lead to great synergies in attempting to understand  both the biomass production potential as well as the carbon sequestration in the soil under different vegetation types.

Find below a few photos of our fieldwork from February, 2014.

Taking soil cores
Prof. Terada is taking soil cores from one of the study plots

PRS probe
PRS (Plant Root Simulator) probes were installed to monitor plant available nutrients, as well as potential contaminants (anions and cations). Dr. Bruckman has experience with this method provided by Western AG Innovations (read more here).

EM-50 data logger
In order to enhance the interpretation of the results from PRS installation (which is highly temperature and moisture dependent) we installed a data logger to simultaneously monitor soil moisture and temperature. Moisture is measured here usinf volumetric water content sensors, rather than measuring conductivity only. Read more about the used sensors here.

configuring data logger and sensor
Dr. Bruckman and Prof. Terada setting up the data logger and respective sensors.

Once the samples are transferred into the lab, we conducted further steps to prepare the samples for carbon determination and further measurements (e.g. pH, FTIR etc.)

Currently, we are analyzing data and preparing the manuscript. The aim of the final paper is not only a presentation of the current data from the Japanese satoyama system, we would rather like to compare cases from Japan and similar woodland management systems in Austria. By comparing these systems, we would like to suggest best management practices in view of carbon management as well as other environmental services of both, tangible and intangible nature.

We will publish the results of the study here as soon as available.

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Satoyama Club Meeting No.5

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March 19th, 2014. 16:30

@ Austrian Academy of Sciences / Interdisciplinary Ecological Studies

Toru TERADA, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo / Department of Natural Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Science)

Satoyama landscape – history, current researches, and biomass utilization

At the beginning of his presentation, Toru Terada differentiated between two common concepts of satoyama:

  1. satoyama in the meaning of coppiced forest
  2. satoyama in the meaning of the whole landscape (including crop field and housing area)

In his talk, Terada referred to the first definition of satoyama (= coppiced forest). In the academic literature, a certain “satoyama renaissance” can be observed, and there is an interesting shift of focus: whereas in the 1980ies, most satoyama studies focused on fauna & biota, in the 1990ies one of the keywords was citizen management. In the 2000s, there is a shift towards biomass in connection with satoyama-related literature.

Terada introduced activities of a citizen group in Funabashi City in Chiba Prefecture, which is entrusted with the maintenance of satoyama. Further, he presented the case study of Ina City in Nagano Prefecture, where biomass utilization – as “community energy resource” – is very high.


An abstract of a recent publication of Toru Terada can be seen here

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Meeting in Tokyo, 26. February 2014

Meeting in Tokyo, 26. February 2014

In Akihabara: Viktor, Toru, Siew, Pia, Naomi

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United Nations University – International Workshop on Sustainable Management of Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes in Noto, 10-11. February 2014

L1180939 Introduction round.

Kulturlandschaft and Satoyama_Parallels and differences between Japan and Austria

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Activity Picture Gallery

This gallery contains 20 photos.

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Satoyama Club Excursion to Werfenweng

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We spent a summer weekend (26.-28.7.) in the countryside and visited Werfenweng in Salzburg, a village known for its concept of “soft mobility” (sanfte Mobilität), which promotes car-free vacation  (or: “vacation from your car”, as the mayor said). Many guesthouses cooperate in this project, and we registered also for the SAMO-Card, which included various offers (use of electric car, electric bicycle, segway, village taxi etc.). The weather was excellent, we took part in a herbal tour, and in the afternoon we had a small hike to the mountains. The mayor Dr. Peter Brandauer welcomed us for a meeting in his office, and he talked about the implementation of the “soft mobility” concept, the development in tourism and the opinions of locals.

Thank you very much Bojana and Giovanni for your help and advice in Werfenweng! Looking forward to seeing you again!

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3rd meeting


This is a photograph of our third meeting on June 21, 2013.

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