Saving the Japanese Giant Salamander with Sustainable Daisen
Sustainable development is about equal and balanced environmental, social, and economic improvements. Unfortunately, the environment has been greatly affected by human activities for the past centuries. One of the impacts is biodiversity loss.
A lot of work needs to be done. Conservation attempts are being made across the globe to reconcile the relationship between humans and nature. In Japan, the Sustainable Daisen works to save the Japanese giant salamander and its habitat.
The Treasure of Japan
The Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) is one of the largest amphibians in the world. This endemic Japanese species is designated a Special Natural Monument and Treasure of Japan. Unfortunately, the population is declining due to habitat loss.
The Nawa River Basin of Mount Daisen is one of the places with the highest population of the Japanese giant salamander. Mountain streams and cold rivers with rapid water flow are ideal habitats because these environments provide the right oxygen level and breeding grounds for the salamanders.
However, as roads, weirs, and dam construction increase, the river basins get blocked and fragmented. The salamanders are unable to migrate upstream to mate and raise their kids. Furthermore, the chemicals from agricultural residue also threaten the water quality and affect the salamanders’ health. This calls for efforts to save the giant amphibian.
Conserving the animals and the habitats
Sustainable Daisen is a non-profit organization based in Daisen Town, Tottori Prefecture. Established in 2021, it aims to protect and conserve the Japanese giant salamander and its natural habitat through outreach, education, research, and ecological intervention.
In the past, conservation efforts focused primarily on preserving the animals only. As the developments around river areas slowly increased, it became clear that habitat fragmentation and loss are also something to actively watch out for and prevent.
Currently, several projects are running under Sustainable Daisen. The complete list can be found on the organization’s website, among them are the following:
- Providing schools and local communities with educational materials on the Japanese giant salamander and Mountain Daisen ecosystem. The materials will be accessible to everyone so the program can go beyond the local regions.
- Securing spots for the Japanese giant salamanders’ sanctuaries and working on ways to cultivate the lands to be beneficial for the salamanders.
- Conducting research at the Nawa River Basin of Mount Daisen to further understand the unique habitat.
Sustainable Daisen has a lot of goals to achieve in the future. One of them is to establish rescue centers and sanctuaries.
In the end, no development should be made at the expense of others. Sustainable Daisen believes the human-nature relationship should be grounded in respect and balance. Conserving and protecting our biodiversity and ecosystems is one of the ways to restore the balance between humans and nature.
Editor: Nazalea Kusuma
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Madina is an In-House Reporter & Researcher at Green Network Asia. She covers Global, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Australasia.