Community Knowledge as Culture in Natural Heritage: Case Studies from Japan

Dr. Kumi Kato
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Traditional knowledge of the people who maintain a close relationship with natural environment exemplifies a profoundly ethical, therefore sustainable, human-nature relationship, providing vital clues to the sustainable management of natural heritage. Such knowledge holders (or place-expert) are most commonly those who engage in subsistence practices such as hunting, fishing and logging, sustained by acute self-regulations regarding natural resource use and profound sense of spiritual connection with their world. Using two case studies from Japan, namely bear hunters in the Shirakami-sanchi WHA and abalone divers in Mie, this paper suggests that community-initiated education, nature-based tourism, art projects, recreational such place-expert knowledge and for this, a geographical and conceptual community who are committed to distinct cultural heritage distinct to the natural area needs to be recognised. Place-based traditional knowledge as a cultural heritage is also extremely relevant as educational resource and is extremely timely and relevant, given that the UNESCO Decade of Education for Sustainable Development has been launched this year.

Keywords: Community, Traditional Knowledge, Natural Heritage Japan
Stream: Environmental Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Kumi Kato

Lecturer, Faculty of Arts, The University of Queensland, Australia

Kumi Kato teaches at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her current research interest includes identifying community-based culture in relation with a natural heritage ~ place-based knowledge, ethical views towards natural resources and sense of connection held by people who maintain a profoundly ethical, therefore sustainable, human-nature relationship. Traditional hunters, sea divers and specialised timber workers are some of the examples. With her belief that the place-based people network is vital for forming conservation commitment and the relevance of cross-cultural perspectives, particularly involving non-English-background cultures, she has formed ECCO (Exchanging Culture for Conservation) that aims to facilitate academic, artistic and community exchange. She also takes creative approaches in her research (“creative conservation”), including use of soundscape. Recent publications: Love you to death. Tale of two Japanese seals. 2005. The Environmentalist. Vol 24: 147-151; Nature as cultural heritage: a view from Tasmania. 2005. Journal of Institute of Environmental Culture, January, 05. No. 23. (; Nature and culture in Australia: a cross-cultural examination. 2004. Forest & Forestry: Journal of Forestry Agency, Japan. No. 603: pp38-41; Tasmanian Soundscape. 2004. Japan Suikinkutsu Forum: pp4-6; and Environment and culture - developing alternative perspectives in environmental discourse. 2002. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, Vol 7 (1): 110-116

Ref: S06P0402