Conservation of water resource areas and community revitalization: a case study of Kawakami Village in Nara Prefecture, Japan

Kai Okuda

PhD student, Graduate School of Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University

Abstract

This paper explores how the conservation of water resource areas for community revitalization impacts the local environment as well as the relationship between the river and the local residents in the basin areas. In doing so, I look at the case of Kawakami Village in Nara Prefecture—a registered Biosphere Reserve (BR) in Japan for its virgin forests and endangered species. The village is also rich in forest resources, and the mountainous forest is the source of the Yoshino-Kinokawa River. In 1996, the village advocated a policy of “Community Revitalization of Water Resource Areas” in order to preserve this environment, and later established a foundation called Mori-to-Mizu-no-GenryĆ«-kan (Museum of Forestry and Water) in 2002. The village entrusts this museum with monitoring the water resource areas and practicing the ecotourism activities along with the volunteers living in the Yoshino-Kinokawa River basin. The paper argues that community revitalization of water resource areas through these activities have increased the exchange opportunities of the locals, and hence the co-operation of preserving Yoshino-Kinokawa River basin as a whole.