The Annotated Ramsar List: Japan

26/06/2012

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The Annotated Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance

JAPAN / JAPON

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The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Japan on 17 October 1980. Japan presently has 46 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance, with a surface area of 137,968 hectares.

NWPA= National Wildlife Protection Area

site; date of designation; region, province, state; surface area; coordinates
site; date de désignation; région, province, état; superficie; coordonnées
sitios; fecha de designación; región, provincia, estado; área; coordenadas

Akan-ko. 08/11/05; Hokkaido; 1,318ha; 43°27'N 144°06'E. National Park. A freshwater caldera lake lying between two active volcanoes, Me-akandake and O-akandake, formed by volcanic subsidence. A number of rare aquatic freshwater algae, particularly the well-known Marimo Cladophora aegagropila are observed. The lake is also an important habitat for the largest freshwater fish in Japan, Japanese Huchen Hucho Perryi and Kokanee Oncorhynchus nerka. In addition, 65 species of birds and 24 mammals, for example, Eurasian Brown Bear and Yezo Sika Deer, also depend on the lake ecosystem. The lake is surrounded by mixed forests of conifers and deciduous trees such as Ezo Spruce Picea jezoensis, Sakhalin Fir Abies sachalinensis, and Japanese oaks. Main landuses include hydroelectric power generation, fishery, aquaculture, and boating. At Akan Lakeside Eco-Museum Center and Marimo Exhibition Center, visitors, about 1.56 million per year, learn about the history of the lake and the status of Marimo and fish species. Ramsar site no. 1540. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Akiyoshidai Groundwater System. 08/11/05; Yamaguchi; 563 ha; 34°15'N 131°18'E. "Quasi-National Park". One of Japan's largest karst topographies, situated in western Honshu with the karst tableland extending 13,000 ha on a gradual plateau and centrally located groundwater system developed underneath, forming three limestone caves of Akiyoshido, Taisido and Kagekiyodo. 'Karrenfeld' pinnacles and small dolines on the tableand are observed. Sometimes an ephemeral lake appears in Kaerimizu Uvala which functions as a rainwater drain. The site functions as a groundwater recharge area with some 50m deep springs observed in the downstream of Koto-gasa river to Aokaga-gawa river. The site is important for unique organisms endemic to caves in the area, including Sinella akiyoshiana, Allochthoniue kobayashii akiyoshiensis, numerous shellfish and several species of bats such as Horseshoe bat and Eastern Bent-winged bat. The area is surrounded by karst grasslands with fringe Kama poljes which are used in some parts as paddy fields. Akiyoshodai is a Quasi-National Park with approximately 900,000 tourists visiting every year. The Natural History Museum conducts regular research. Ramsar site no. 1541. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Akkeshi-ko & Bekambeushi-shitsugen. 10/06/93; Hokkaido; 5,277 ha; 43º03’N 144º54’E. National Wildlife Protection Area; Natural Park; Natural Monument; Anatidae & Crane Network Site. A brackish lake with river inflow, surrounded by saltmarsh, extensive fens, and bogs and connected to the sea. The mire supports oyster and clam fisheries and numerous bird and plant species. Current land use includes fishing, aquaculture, tourism and forestry. The condition of the Manchurian Crane habitat is monitored. Ramsar site no. 614. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Arao-higata. 03/07/12; Kumamoto; 754 ha; 32°58'10"N 130°25'30"E. National Wildlife Protection Area. Arao-higata is situated in the eastern side of the central part of the Sea of Ariake and is the largest single tidal flat in the Central Kuroshio Current biogeographic region. The site serves as an important wintering and stopping point for the migratory waterbirds along the East Asia-Australasian Flyway, including shorebirds which feed on the biota of the tidal flats. The endangered Black faced spoonbill Platalea minor and the vulnerable Saunder's gull Larus saundersi occur and the site regularly supports more than 1% of the world population of the latter. Commercial laver (seaweed) culture and fishing for short-neck clams are carried out in the site. Ramsar Site no. 2054. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Biwa-ko. 10/06/93; Shiga, Honshu; 65,984 ha; 35º15’N 136º05’E. Lake Biwa Quasi National Park Special Zone; Wildlife Protection Area; Anatidae Network Site. Surrounded by vast reedbeds, the country’s largest lake is the world’s third oldest. Seventy species of aquatic plants have been recorded, as well as numerous relict plants. 53 species of fish, of which 11 are indigenous, and 172 bird species use the area for feeding, roosting or staging. Waterbird counts record over 50,000 birds annually. Most of the site is composed of beaches or natural and urban park zones used for tourism and recreation. Pearl and fish production are economically important. There is increasing urban demand for water from the lake. Area extended by 382 ha in 2008. Ramsar site no. 617. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Fujimae-Higata. 14/10/02; Aichi; 323 ha; 35°04'N 136°50'E. A tidal flat at the mouths of the Shonai, Shinkawa, and Nikko rivers as they flow into the port city of Nagoya. The site is an important staging site along the East Asia-Australia Flyway with one of the highest shorebird counts in Japan - some seven species of shorebird surpass the 1% threshold in the area, and more than 20,000 waterbirds have been counted frequently. The wetland is also visited by a number of endangered species, including the birds Tringa guttifer, Botaurus stellaris stellaris, Tadorna tadorna, and Sterna albifrons sinensis, among others, and the endangered fish Chaenogobius macrognathos. Once part of extensive tidal flats in the northern part of Ise Bay, the site remains relatively unaltered itself amid widespread transformation of the surrounding areas for development purposes. A popular site with bird watchers, it is said that, when plans to "reclaim" the tidal flat entirely for a dumping site were abandoned by the City Council, "the site became a symbol of the wetland conservation movement in Japan". Bird watching facilities exist and a wetland education centre is planned for 2003-4. Ramsar site no. 1200. Most recent RIS information: 2004.

Furen-ko and Shunkuni-tai. 08/11/05; Hokkaido; 6,139 ha; 43°18'N 145°21'E. NWPA. Furen-ko is a brackish lagoon, low moor and sea grass beds that used to be a part of the sea on the base of Nemuro peninsula at the northeastern tip of Japan. Among 13 rivers flowing into Furen-ko, the estuary of the Furen River has developed into a saltmarsh forming a vast landscape. Shunkuni-tai resembles a lid on Furen-ko lagoon consisting of 3 rows of ancient sand dunes covered by Sakhalin Spruce Picea glehnii forest. 280 species of birds were recorded in this site including globally endangered Grus Japonensis, Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, and rare White-tailed Sea Eagle, Steller's Eagle, Black Woodpecker and Blakiston's Fish Owl. Fishery, aquaculture, harvesting of clams and tourism are the main activities. Shunkuni-tai Wildbird Nature Center attracts 10,000 visitors annually. Various nature observation programmes are conducted by local NGOs and other organizations. Ramsar site no. 1542. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Hotokenuma. 08/11/05; Aomori; 222 ha; 40°49'N 141°23'E. NWPA. Hotokenuma lies at the Pacific coast of Shimokita-Hanto peninsula, connected to the largest lake Ogawara-ko. It was part of the converted ricefields under a reclamation project in the early 1960s which was later suspended by the government, when Hotokenuma became an undisturbed reedlands owned by the Misawa city. It is a low moor dominated by common reed, Phragmites communis. Hotokenuma was brought to public attention for the sighting of IUCN Redlisted Japanese Marsh Warbler Locustella pryeri, a species found only in some parts of China and Japan with last remaining world population of 2500. It is also a breeding site for endangered Japanese Reed-bunting and Schrenck's Bittern and important staging site for migratory waterbirds. Apart from the special wildlife protection, a nature conservation programme was conducted in the past. Ramsar site no. 1543. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Hyo-ko. 30/10/08; Niigata; 24 ha; 37°50'N, 139°14'E Habitat/Species Management Area, Natural Monument. Irrigation reservoirs created artificially in the Edo Period (1603-1867) and, since 1990-2000, a bird sanctuary located in the centre of Niigata Plain in Agano City, fed by the Oodoori river . IUCN Red-listed vulnerable species like Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) and  Baikal Teal (Anas formosa) are found here, as well as Tundra Swans Cygnus columbianus above the 1% threshold. The site includes some nationally protected flora species as well. A marshy vegetation serves as habitat for 100 bird species for wintering purposes, aquatic plants and fish species. Hunting is prohibited at the site and local residents are involved in its conservation. Eutrophication and nearby residential development are seen as potential threats. A management plan is anticipated to enter into force in October 2008. Ramsar site no. 1842. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Imuta-ike. 08/11/05; Kagoshima; 60 ha; 31°49'N 130°28'E. Natural Habitat Conservation Area, Natural Monument. In Satuma-sendai city, outflowing to the Sendai River and surrounded by a small cluster of volcanoes, the freshwater crater lake Imuta-ike of Iimori Mountain forms a crucial component of its surrounding lake-low moor ecosystem. At the northwest, the peat 'islands' are considered a national natural monument serving an ideal for Phragmites japonica, Zizania latifolia Manchurian Wild-rice, and Nymphea tetragona Pygmy Water Lily. The lake is a conservation priority for many species of dragonfly including IUCN Redlisted critically endangered Libellua Angelina. It is also a breeding site for Spot-billed duck and habitat for various other waterfowl. Scarcity of human settlements in the area has kept its pristine environment, although water is utilized for irrigation downstream. The city government established a Ecosystem Preservation Museum to raise public awareness of the site's diversity, especially the peat plant communities, using interpretive panels, models, visual images and training sessions. Annually, about 35,000 tourists visit the site for sight-seeing, finishing and canoeing. Ramsar site no. 1544. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Izu-numa & Uchi-numa. 13/09/85; Miyagi, Honshu; 559 ha; 38º43’N 141º06’E. National Wildlife Protection Area; Nature Conservation Area. Two interconnected freshwater lakes supporting fringing peat swamps, reedbeds, and submerged vegetation. One of the few Japanese localities for wild rice, an important food source for wintering Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.). The current research focuses on wintering bird populations and the declining growth of wild rice. Principal human activities are nature conservation and fishing. Surrounding areas support rice-growing and pastoralism. Ramsar site no. 318. Most recent RIS information: 1992.

Kabukuri-numa and the surrounding rice paddies. 08/11/05; Miyagi; 423 ha; 38°38''N 141°06'E. NWPA. One of the largest wintering sites for Anser albifrons White-fronted Goose (7.86%-18.46% East Eurasian Population), Anser fabalis middendorffii Bean Goose, Whooper Swan and, in total, 230 bird species for breeding, foraging and roosting. The lake is inhabited by typical lowland swamp vegetation of Manchurian wild rice and reeds, with willows along the shores and rare species of Penthorum chinensis. About 22 species of dragonflies and various freshwater fishes are found. For managing the wintering ground, measures such as water management, clean-ups, channel maintenance and water quality improvement are regularly conducted. In winter and post-harvest, the rice fields are left flooded for wildbirds to winter in the site; later the nutrient-rich soil from droppings is used as natural fertiliser for the wild rice, in addition to controling weeds and pests. Public awareness programmes and school education are integrated with the local conservation measures. Ramsar site no. 1545. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Katano-kamoike. 10/06/93; Ishikawa, Honshu; 10 ha; 36º19’N 136º17’E. Wildlife Protection Area; National Park; Natural Monument; Anatidae Network Site. A shallow pond and marsh, important as a resting place for 190 bird species, including the nationally rare Accipiter gentilis and White-tailed Eagle. Abundant wild rice and reedbeds provide the largest wintering area for Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.) in western Japan, attracting over 10,000 waterbirds. The pond functions as a seasonal agricultural reservoir. To ensure sufficient water surface for waterbirds, wetland plants are harvested. The visitors’ centre attracts people for bird-watching and nature appreciation and provides educational and research opportunities. Ramsar site no. 616. Most recent RIS information: 1993.

Kejo-numa. 30/10/08; Miyagi; 34 ha;  38°37'N 140°57'E. Habitat /Species Management Area, National Protection Area. A reservoir as well as freshwater lake, located in the northeast of Osaki city, serves in flood control and irrigation of rice fields. The site provides habitat to vulnerable species like Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus)  and Baikal Teal (Anas formosa) as well as 13 bird species and 28 flora species in the national protected list, and it supports the 1% threshold for White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons) and Bean Geese (Anser fabalis serrirostris). Declines of native fish due to the release of Largemouth Bass and Bluegill present a threat. A national historical site “Ruin of Miyazawa” exists within the site. A management plan is in place. Ramsar site no. 1843. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Kerama-shoto Coral Reef. 08/11/05; Okinawa; 353 ha; 26°12'N 127°18'E. Quasi-National Park. Part of the Kerama-shoto Islands at the west of Okinawa, the designated area is divided in two major areas: 120 ha along the west coast of Tokashiki Island and 233 ha among deserted islands. The coral reef consists of 248 species of well-developed fringing corals, tabular, mound, horn-shaped, branching and sheet reef-building ones, densely distributed in water with abundant colorful fishes like Chromis notata, Chaetodontidae and Labridae species. Some places are covered with 90% corals, mainly tabular and arborscent Acropora. The reefs are the supply sources for larvae corals. Past threat to the reef was crown-of-thorn starfish and, in 1998, severe coral bleaching were observed. Control campaigns by local communities are helping to restore the site. Much of the area retains natural beauty attracting over 100,000 scuba-divers and tourists every year. Whale-watching is also a popular activity in winter. Ramsar site no. 1546. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Kiritappu-shitsugen. 10/06/93; Hokkaido; 2,504 ha; 43º05’N 145º05’E. National Wildlife Protection Area; Natural Park; Natural Monument; Crane Network Site. A Sphagnum peatbog formed on ancient dunes with a tidal river bisecting the site. Marshes connected to the sea are brackish lakes under tidal influence. The site supports several species of noteworthy plants, 13 species of birds and various mammals. Human activities include clam fishing, forestry and research. The area is a tourist destination. Ramsar site no. 613. Most recent RIS information: 1993.

Kuju Bogatsuru and Tadewara-shitsugen. 08/11/05; Oita; 91 ha; 33°06'N 131°15'E. Quasi-National Park. Near the summit of the mountain in Kirishima Volcanic Belt and below at its base, the largest intermediate moors of mixed sphagnum bogs formed in the mountainous areas in Japan. Bogatsuru is nestled in a basin between Mt. Mimata and other volcanic mountains, whereas Tadewara is located in alluvial fan. The site is the central attraction within Aso-kuju National Park drawing 5 million visitors annually to the breathtaking landscape of smoking volcanoes, meadows, forests, and hot springs. Popular activities include sight-seeing during autumn, hiking, camping, nature walking and folk events. It supports 74 fern species and 493 seed plants, including some rare plants like Geranuim soboliferum, Pterygopleurum neurophyllum and Sphagnum palustre. To maintain the vegetation, terrestrialisation of the wetlands into forests is hindered through meadow burning in spring by the local community. Nationally Redlisted species Golden Eagle, Hodgson's Hawk-eagle and Peregrine Falcon are also found. Ramsar site no. 1547. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Kushimoto Coral Communities. 08/11/05; Wakayama; 574 ha; 33°27'N 135°47'E. National Park. A unique littoral area rich in high-latitude to tropical marine life of 120 species, situated at southern tip of Kii Peninsula. Kuroshio Current, the major warm current on the earth, touches the area allowing formation of a peculiarly warm environment supporting tropical organisms on the main island of Japan. Acropora hyacinthus, the dominant species, is important for its high nutrition productivity and topography formation capacity, and also significant for tourism resources because of its beautiful tabular coral landscape. The highest concentration of Catalaphyllia jardenei population was identified only in this area, making it the largest marine colony in Japan and northernmost distribution in the world. The remarkable coral communities support rich biodiversity with nutrition and habitat sources stabilising the neritic environment. The site has special value for marine fishery, leisure fishing, scientific research and tourism, particularly coral observation and scuba diving. Typhoon, natural retreat of the warm current, Arita Bay development activities, illegal and over-fishing are considered as major threats to the coral communities. Ramsar site no. 1548. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Kushiro-shitsugen. 17/06/80; Hokkaido; 7,863 ha; 43º09’N 144º26’E. National Wildlife Protection Area; National Park; Anatidae & Crane Network Site. Extensive peatland with raised bogs, freshwater lakes, and the most extensive tracts of reedbeds in Japan. The site supports an important assemblage of flora and fauna and is important for various species of globally threatened birds such as the Japanese Crane. It is the only location in Japan for certain reptiles, dragonflies, damselflies and notable plants. Human activities include nature conservation and fishing. It is an important water source for domestic and industrial users. Research facilities support studies relating to the notable species occurring within the site, and include a Wildlife Centre and Crane Sanctuary. Adjacent to the site of Ramsar COP5, 1993. Ramsar site no. 205. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Kutcharo-ko. 06/07/89; Hokkaido; 1,607 ha; 45º09’N 142º20’E. National Wildlife Protection Area; Natural Park; Anatidae Network Site. Two interconnected, coastal, freshwater lake basins supporting excellent examples of typical Northern Japanese reed swamp communities and bordered by a dune system, hills and fen/peatland. An especially important staging and wintering area for up to 10,000 swans and 50,000-60,000 ducks. One of the most important Japanese sites for the globally threatened White-tailed Eagle. Principal human activities are nature conservation, fishing, and recreation, while some of the surrounding areas support pastoralism. The wetland is an important source of drinking water. Ramsar site no. 439. Most recent RIS information: 1992.

Lower Maruyama River and the surrounding rice paddies. 03/07/12; Hyogo; 560 ha; 35°37'05"N 134°49'00"E. National Park, Class 2 Special Zone. Comprises the Maruyama River within Toyooka City, adjacent rice fields and the coastal area facing the Sea of Japan. The site is famous for a successful reintroduction programme for the endangered Oriental White Stork Ciconia boyciana that began in 1955 after the species had become extinct in the biogeographic region. The rice paddies are water-logged in the winter in order, as surveys indicate that they provide habitat for 5,668 species in total. The site serves as the spawning ground and nursing area for different families such as Oncorhynchus keta (Chum Salmon), Gsterosteus aculeatus (Three-spined Stickleback) and Oryzias latipes latipes (Japanese Rice fish). The people in Toyooka City (pop. 88,095) rely on the lower Maruyama River as it provides a supply of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural use and is a source of food through its fisheries. The expansion work of roads in the surrounding areas threatens to reduce the wetland and lead to the deterioration of the water quality. Ramsar Site no. 2055. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Manko. 15/05/99; Okinawa; 58 ha; 26º11’N 127º41’E. Special Wildlife Protection Area. A brackish tidal flat located within the Naha City area in the southern part of the main island of Okinawa. Main habitat types are mangroves and associated tidal flats. Designated as one of the 12 most important staging areas for migratory shorebirds in Japan, the site harbors an estimated 1% of the world population of a subspecies of Black-faced Spoonbill. Land-use within and surrounding the site is limited to small-scale fishery and recreation. Ramsar site no. 996. Most recent RIS information: 1999.

Mikata-goko. 08/11/05; Fukui; 1,110 ha; 35°35'N 135°53'E. Quasi-National Park. A cluster of 5 brackish-semi-freshwater lakes (locally referred to 'the lakes with five colors') along the Rias Coast of Wakasa bay, surrounded by gradual hills and Mt.Baijo. Though the lakes are connected, each has different salinity, size and depth, which harbours variety of fish species, including different endemic fish species in natural and aquaculture areas, such as Gnathopogon elongates, Stripped bitterling Acheilognathus cyanostigma, Big-eye sardine Etrumeus teres and rare Piscivorous chub Opsariichthys unicirostris. The coastline thrives on fishery, tourism and gourmet seafood all year round. The freshwater vegetations are mainly reed, wild rice and water-chestnut. These lakes, except Hiruga-ko, are wintering site for more than 10,000 waterbirds and Pandion haliaetus (Osprey). Eutrophication is seen as a major threat to two of the lakes. Even though the site is developed for commercial fishery and aquaculture, fish catches in the recent years have been decreasing. The Seaside Nature Center of Fuikui operates 'Mikata-goko Nature School' with local organisations for observing life forms in rice fields around the lakes, fishes and migratory waterbirds. Ramsar site no. 1549. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Miyajima. 03/07/12; Hiroshima; 142 ha; 34°14'34"N 132°16'09"E. National Park, UNESCO World Heritage site. A natural coastal wetland consisting of sandy shores and intertidal marshes on Miyajima Island within the Seto Inland Sea National Park in the northwestern part of Hiroshima Bay. The site is well conserved compared to other parts of the coast along the Seto inland sea that have already been lost due to bank protection work. Spring water from Mount Misen mixes with the inflow of seawater to form brackish tidal marshes that provide an ideal habitat for the vulnerable Orthetrum poecilops miyajimaensis, a subspecies of the IUCN red-listed Mangrove skimmer Orthetrum poecilop. Miyajima is the only site in the world where this subspecies has been recorded. The wetland lies within the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine World Heritage site. Ramsar Site no. 2056. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Miyajima-numa. 14/10/02; Hokkaido; 41 ha; 43°20'N 141°43'E. A small, open, shallow freshwater lake left by the nearby Ishikari river, surrounded chiefly by rice paddy. The lake is one of the most important staging sites for migratory Anatidae species, especially large ones, that winter in Japan, and more than 50,000 Greater White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons stop over in the spring. The government-owned site is used as an agricultural reservoir for surrounding farmlands and is popular with bird watchers. Ramsar site no. 1201. Most recent RIS information: 2002.

Nagura Ampuru. 08/11/05; Okinawa; 157 ha; 24°24'N 124°09'E. NWPA. A tidal flat with mangrove forests located on the west coast of Ishigaki Island, where the Nagura River flows into Nagura Bay and crucial for flood control and sediment trapping. The diverse subtropical natural ecosystem supports various bird species of raptors, waterfowl typical of Yaemama islands, a high diversity of shellfish and benthos like rare crustaceans Neocaridina ishigakiensis, and burrowing shrimps. It is also a rich resting and foraging ground for sandpipers, plovers, and ducks. The common mangroves are Bruguiera gymnorhiza, Lumnitzera racemosa, Avicennia marina and Rhizophora mucronata. The benthic creatures are considered as a source of inspiration for locals; the ecology of crabs is humorously personified in folk songs. Outdoor recreations of the locals include shellfish and crab harvesting, bird watching and sight-seeing. Much of the land is privately owned, but the site is nationally protected for wildlife and restricts hunting. Potential threats are sedimentation and agricultural run-off. Nature observation is included in school curricula and the local government develops awareness materials for student's awareness. Ramsar site no. 1550. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Nakaikemi-shicchi. 03/07/12; Fukui; 87 ha; 35°39'40"N 136°05'20"E. Quasi-National Park. Within the Japanese Mixed Forest biogeographic region, this type of low moor wetland is rare and not widely distributed. The peat sediment at the central part of the site is approximately 40 meters deep, representing a valuable record of changes in climate and vegetation during the past one hundred thousand years. It is also considered a biodiversity hot spot with more than 2,000 species of animals and plants inhabiting the area. It was initially developed for rice cultivation during the Edo period (1603-1868) and has since been used as unprepared wet paddies without improvement. Currently, cultivation has been abandoned for the entire field except for the wet paddies for conservation of the wetland. The Japanese Yellow Bunting, Emberiza sulphurata, listed as vulnerable by IUCN, occurs in the wetland. The visitor centre is managed by Tsuruga city and used for environmental education and communication; boardwalks, paths, and information boards have been built for the 15,000 visitors that visit the area each year. Incursion of alien species such as Procambarus clarkia (Red swamp crawfish) and Solidago altissima (Canada goldenrod) is seen as a potential threat. Ramsar Site no. 2057. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Nakaumi. 08/11/05; Shimane, Tottori; 8,043 ha; 35°28'N 133°14'E. NWPA. A brackish lagoon located at the estuary of the Hii River system, linked to the Sea of Japan by a narrow waterway in the northern shore. The site is home to 80 species of brackish and sea fishes and is one of the largest wintering and staging spots of more than 75,000 birds and 260 species. Nakaumi supports more than 1% of the East Asian population of Tundra Swan, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck and Scaup. The site has a high value for fishery resources with average annual catch more than 500 metric tons. A strong environmental movement against a reclamation project for converting the lands to farmlands with freshwater flow has subsequently led to Ramsar designation. Main conservation measures include Anatidae census, regular national survey of the environment, and a Sanctuary established for Yonago Waterbirds. Ramsar site no. 1551. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Notsuke-hanto and Notsuke-wan. 08/11/05; Hokkaido; 6,053ha; 43°35'N 145°16'E. NWPA. Notsuke-hanto is the largest sand spit in Japan, a fish hook-shaped peninsula jutting into Nemuro Strait on the eastern edge of Hokkaido. Notsuke-wan is a bay formed between the sand spit and the mainland with average depth of 4m, widespread tidal flats and full of Zostera seagrass bed. The site is one of the largest staging and breeding habitat for migratory waterbirds with 66,935 annual migratory population of 211 species, particularly IUCN Redlisted Grus Japonensis, and regularly supporting more than 1% population of Cygnus Cygnus, Branta bernicula, Anas Penelope, Aythya marila, and Bucephala clangula. Seaside vegetation on salt marshes consist of Elymus mollis community among other species, and sand dunes are covered with Japanese Rose and White clovers. It also functions as an important spawning and nursing ground for local fish. In Notsuke-wan, the major catch in the seagrass bed is Hokkai shrimp Pandalus kessleri, protected by a fisherman cooperative to regulate its open season and catch, managing limited marine resource as one of the best practice wise use wetland fisheries in Japan. Ramsar site no. 1552. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Oku-Nikko-shitsugen. 08/11/05; Tochigi; 260 ha; 36°47'N 139°26'E. National Park. The site is composed of Senjogahara, Odashirogahara and Yunoko at 1400m asl. in altitude surrounded by mountains. Senjogahara is one of the largest high moors in Honshu Island with more than 100 species of swamp plants like cotton grass and Japanese azalea. The vegetation of Odashigahara shows characteristics of moor and grassland succession; whereas Yunoko is a freshwater lake with hot springs in the same watershed, almost in pristine condition and an attractive tourist spot. The area is an important breeding site for summer birds, mostly Latham's Snipe Gallinago hardwickii and Stonechat Saxicola torquata. During winter, the site is visited by many migratory waterfowls including Mallard, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Smew. Colour change of decidous trees in autumn, traditionally called 'Koyo', is cherished by the Japanese for its landscape beauty. Potential threats to Senjogahara are sediment inflow, reduction of inflow, constructions of facilities disconnecting inflow from upstream, inappropriate drainage and intake facilities, tourist influx, alien invasive species, and overgrazing. Conservation measures regularly conducted by local organixations are nature walks, control of alien species, control foraging by deer, and capacity building training for youth. Ramsar site no. 1553. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Onuma. 03/07/12; Hokkaido; 1,236 ha; 41°59'16"N 140°40'28"E. Quasi National Park. The site includes the Onuma, Konuma, Junsainuma freshwater lakes at the centre of the Oshima Peninsula, connected by waterways called "sebatto" (literally: 'narrow doors'). The lake system formed as a result of the damming of rivers following the great eruption of Mt. Komagatake in 1640. More than 120 islands called "Nagareyama" (small lava cones) were formed within the ponds, creating a unique landscape. After the volcanic eruption, vegetation slowly colonized the site and the forest is now dominated by Fagus crenata, of which the site is the northernmost limit. The site is also known for the diversity of shellfish species from the boreal regions and from Honshu (mainland Japan). The wetland provides flood control and acts as a reservoir used for agriculture, power generation, ecotourism and fisheries. Around 2 million visitors visit the site annually. It is currently threatened by eutrophication caused by agriculture and stockbreeding effluent and by the invasion of the alien plant species Rudbeckia laciniata. Ramsar Site no. 2058. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Oyama Kami-ike and Shimo-ike. 30/10/08; Yamagata; 39 ha; 38°45’N 139°45’E. Habitat /Species Management Area, National Wildlife Protection Area. A freshwater lake as well as irrigation reservoir for the past 400 years, which supplies water to the agricultural fields. The site is important for vulnerable species under the IUCN Red List like Steller’s Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus) and Baikal Teal (Anas formosa), and it supports Anatidae species, exceeding 20,000 individuals and 1% threshold of species of mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus). It also supports 18 fish species. Kami-ike is used for cultivating lotus commercially. A management plan is anticipated to enter into force in October 2008. Ramsar site no. 1844. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Oze. 08/11/05; Fukushima, Gunma, Niigata; 8,711 ha; 36°56'N 139°14'E. National Park. Oze consists of Ozehahara moor, Ozenuma Lake and surrounding mountains, forests and small moors. Ozegahara is the largest high moors in Japan, 760 ha spreading across Niigata, Gunma and Fukushima, a flat basin (at 1400m asl.) with high water retention capacity. The site possesses rich wetland biodiversity including endangered aquatic Chara globularis var globularis, dragonflies and coleopterous, and many migratory birds. The site includes around 6,277 ha of private lands area (72% of the total designated area) now brought under conservation measures. To appreciate one of Japan's most beautiful landscapes, ecotourism has been developed in Ozegahara and Oze-numa with nature trails, boardwalks, visitor's center, and local restoration programmes and about 3-6 million visits annually. Ramsar site no. 1554. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Sakata. 28/03/96; Niigata; 76 ha; 37º49’N 138º53’E. National Wildlife Protection Area; National Park; Urban Park; Anatidae Network Site. Four lakes of varying salinity surrounded by dunes. Aquatic vegetation covers the lakes, and pine forests occur in the surroundings. A large variety and number of birds use the site, which provides important wintering areas for numerous species of Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.). There is a wildlife observatory at the site. Human activities include small-scale fishing and cultivation. Groundwater levels are declining due to extraction for agricultural purposes. Ramsar site no. 820. Most recent RIS information: 1995.

Sarobetsu-genya. 08/11/05; Hokkaido; 2,560 ha; 45°05'N 141°42'E. NWPA. A vast peatland at the northern tip of Hokkaido represents one of the largest high moors in lowland plains. The Sarobetsu River, flowing around the marshland, has limited water fluctuation and poor supply of nutrients leading to ideal conditions for formation of such high moors. Ponds and small lakes scattered in the site provide breeding sites for waterbirds and support more than 1% of the East Asian population of Anser fabalis middendorfii and Cygnus columbianus. From spring to autumn, the wetland is covered by more than 100 species of colorful flora including Small cranberry, Hare's cotton-grass, and lilies. Boardwalks constructed in Sarobetsu Wildflower Garden and Panke-numa provide a close look at these pretty flowers. A project is underway to restore the dry areas of wetlands due to past incidence of lowering the groundwater level. About 300,000 people visit the Sarobetsu Nature School/Toyotomi Visitor Center and Horonobe Visitor Center annually and walk along the nature trails. Ramsar site no. 1555. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Shinji-ko. 08/11/05; Shimane; 7,652 ha; 35°26'N 132°58'E. NWPA. The seventh largest lake in Japan and one of the largest wintering sites of Anatidae species, with 21,000-48,500 per year. Shinji-ko offers an essential habitat for 80 brackish water species of fish and shellfish, including Japanese indigenous Shinjo-ko Goby and popular Shijimi or Corbicula clam. The site supports 240 species of waterbirds and more than 1% of the East Asian population of White-fronted Goose and Scaup. The lake provides the largest catch of Corbicula Leana, about 7500 tons, more than 40% of the country's total catch, and has a special connotation in Japanese seafood culture as 'Shinji-ko Shichi-chin' or '7 rare seafoods of Shinji-ko'. Bird watching, nature observation, Nature Museum visits, windsurfing, pleasure fishing and boating are popular activities. In recent years, reduction of pollution loads in this prefecture has become a priority, and there is a plan to employ effective measures for conservation and raise water quality. Ramsar site no. 1556. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Streams in Kume-jima. 30/10/08; Okinawa; 255 ha; 26°22’N 126°46’E. Habitat/ Species Management Area, Habitat Conservation Area. The site mainly consists of streams flowing from Mt Uegusuku on Kume-jima in the Ryukyu Islands, creating an important habitat for endangered species under IUCN Red List and National Protected Species lists, including bird species like Amami Woodcock (Scolopax mira) and reptile species like Kikuzato’s Stream (or Brook) Snake (Opisthotropis kikuzatoi), Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle (Geoemyda japonica), and Kuroiwa ground gecko (Goniurosaurus kuroiwae yamashinae) as well as some endemic species. The vegetation with Psychotria rubra - Castanopsis sieboldiissp. lutchuensis and Pinus luchuensis serves as excellent habitat for these rare species. Ruins of Uegusuku Castle in the site are an Okinawa Prefectural historical site. Surrounding communities use stream water for liquor production. Decrease of stream flow due to water withdrawals, disruption by invasive alien species like Bullfrogs(Rana catesbeiana), and disturbance to stream environment from gusty heavy rain and floods due to steep landscapes are some of the potential threats in the site. A management plan is in place. Ramsar site no. 1845. Most recent RIS information: 2008.

Tateyama Midagahara and Dainichidaira. 03/07/12; Toyama; 574 ha; 36°34'18"N 137°32'06"E. National Park. An alpine wetland extending over the flat lava plateau formed by the past volcanic activity of Mt. Tateyama. These snow patch grasslands contain about 1,000 shallow ponds recharged by melting snow and rain. The site includes Shomyo Waterfall, at 350m the highest waterfall in Japan, and offers a wintering spot for Lagopus muta (Ptarmigan) and several species of alpine butterflies and the dragonfly Leucorrhinina dubiaorientalis. The site overlaps the Special Protection Zone of the Chubu-sangaku National Park which is intended to give strict protection to the pristine natural environment of the park. The site holds religious significance as it lies within the Tateyama area, a place of mountain worship. Shomyo Waterfall (Shomyo = chanting the name of Buddha) is said to have been named for the roaring sound of the waterfall that closely resembles Buddhist prayer. The opening of the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine sightseeing route in 1971 has caused some disturbances that are seen as potential threats. Ramsar Site no. 2059. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Tofutsu-ko. 08/11/05; Hokkaido; 900 ha; 43°56'N 144°24'E. Special National Park Zone. A brackish lagoon in eastern Hokkaido, with salt marshland developed in lowlands along the shore filled with rare aquatic plants, in particular, Common Glasswort Salicornia europaea, which fills the shore with red color in autumn inviting many tourists. It is one of few important stopovers for 67,000 Anatidae species as well as Grus Japonensis and Yellow-breasted Bunting for breeding every year. White-tailed Eagle, Steller's Eagle and commercially important mollusks are also found. Common vegetation includes meadow, cropland, coniferous and broad-leafed forest. Present threats affecting the ecological character are sediment inflow, land development for agriculture, and population. Ramsar site no. 1557. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Tokai Hilly Land Spring-fed Mires. 03/07/12; Aichi; 23 ha; 35°05'02"N 137°12'59"E. Quasi National Park. A cluster of six small oligotrophic spring-fed mires at an elevation of 100-300m that occur in three main areas (Kamitaka, Onshinji, and Yanami) in adjacent catchments, but are hydrologically linked because of underground seepage from the Yahagi River system. The mires are representative examples of such wetland types that once used to be common in the biogeographic region but have since been lost due to development. The wetland supports many rare and endemic plant species that are adapted to the oligotrophic conditions of Tokai Hill, including a number that are locally called 'Tokai Hill Land Elements' because they have their main distribution only at the site. These include 'Shiratama-hoshikusa' Eriocaulon nudicuspe, 'Mikawa-shiogama' Pedicularis resupinata var. microphylla and 'Tokai-komousengoke' Drosera Tokaiensis. As a result of land development elsewhere, these are the only remaining spring-fed mires that are still in good condition. The clusters of wetlands are currently well conserved and protected under national law. They represent a water reservoir and support the agriculture carried out downstream. Ramsar Site no. 2060. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Uryunuma-shitsugen. 08/11/05; Hokkaido; 624 ha; 43°42'N 141°36'E. Quasi-National Park. The second largest mountain high moors, after Oze, in Japan. The regular snowfall is more than 3m high and post-winter thawing of snows leave the area with replenished freshwater with frozen parts of semi-decomposed, but nutritious land. The most diverse plant communities among Japan's northern marshlands, at least 150 species, are developed in the site, where peatmoss, Sphagnum spp. and Moliniopsis japonica are typically observed. The most remarkable characteristic of this site is that more than 100 ponds are scattered in the wetlands including small islands of waterweed swamps, in summer filled with colourful aquatic flowers like blooming lilies. A main threat is invasion of alien species like Solidago altissima, although continuous control measures are taken by the local management authority. Ramsar site no. 1558. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Utonai-ko. 12/12/91; Hokkaido; 510 ha; 42º42’N 141º43’E. National Wildlife Protection Area. A freshwater lake in the Bibi River floodplain, surrounded by reed-sedge swamp, swamp forest and stands of wild rice. One of the most important staging and wintering areas for Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans, etc.) in Japan. Human activities are fishing and nature conservation devoted to research and monitoring projects. Ramsar site no. 539. Most recent RIS information: 1992.

Watarase-yusuichi. 03/07/12; Ibaragi, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama; 2,861 ha; 36°14'20"N 139°40'56"E. National Wildlife Protection Zone. A natural river flood plain where the Watarase, Uzuma and Omoi rivers meet and includes the Watarse reservoir, an artificial retarding basin surrounded by an embankment managed mainly for flood control. Located 60 km north of Tokyo, it is representative of a Phragmites australis-dominated low moor wetland in the Japanese Evergreen Forest biogeographic ecoregion. The extensive reedbed is one of the largest in the biogeographic region and supports a diversity of wetland flora and fauna. The site has an important flood control function by retarding the flood water from the rivers that flows into the site, and then slowly releasing the water into the Tone River that flows downstream. It is also used for fisheries, recreation, and environmental education. The wetland is at risk of drying up due to excess deposits of earth and sand and is being maintained through excavation since 2010. Ramsar Site no. 2061. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

Yakushima Nagata-hama. 08/11/05; Kagoshima; 10 ha; 30°24'N 130°25'E. National Park, UNESCO World Heritage site. A sand shore on the northwestern part of Yakushima Island, entirely surrounded by sea cliffs and the beach sweeping south from the River Nagata-gawa. With subtropical climate, it experiences rare and diverse vertical distribution of pristine flora, the most famous 1000-year old 'Yaku-sugi' cedar and other ancient Yaku-sugi revered as sacred trees. The beach is a renowned spawning ground and crucial stopping point for the Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta -- in 2005, a total of 2,799 turtles were recorded, of which 1,394 individuals nested. In 1985, the NGO Yakushima Umigame-kan/Sea Turtle Center was established with activities including ecosystem assessment, beach cleanups, nesting patrols, protecting the eggs and eco-volunteer training. A Sea Turtle Aquarium was also built near the beach. Recreation activities include bathing and turtle observation, attracting at least 7,000 visitors every year. Ramsar site no. 1559. Most recent RIS information: 2005.

Yatsu-higata. 10/06/93; Chiba, Honshu; 40 ha; 35º41’N 140º00’E. Wildlife Protection Area; Shorebird Network Site. This mudflat, submerged at high tide and connected to Tokyo Bay, is in relatively pristine condition. Important for visiting migratory birds: 10% of the plovers and sandpipers migrating through Japan are counted in this area. The site is used for conservation education, birdwatching, research, and light recreation. A nature observation centre is located on-site. Surrounding areas are residential or industrial. Ramsar site no. 615. Most recent RIS information: 1993.

Yonaha-wan. 03/07/12; Miyako Island; 704 ha; 24°45'57"N 125°16'16"E. Special Protection Zone. Located in the Okinawa archipelago, Yonaha-wan is the biggest tidal flat on Miyako Island and is one of the largest in the Ryukyu Islands biogeographic region. The site supports mangrove forests and extensive seaweed beds mainly composed of Thaalassia hemprichii, Cymodocea rotundata and Syringodium isoetifolium. A significant number of waterbird species stop at the site to forage or breed, including the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus and the endangered Japanese Crane Grus japonensis and Oriental stork Ciconia boyciana. A number of reptiles are also recorded in this marine sanctuary, such as the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle Eretmochelys imbricata as well as endangered endemic species such as the Miyako Grass Lizard Takydromus toyamai. The area is important for fisheries, tourism and environmental education and is currently affected by the inflow of excess nutrients and sediments from agricultural and domestic sources. Ramsar Site no. 2062. Most recent RIS information: 2012.

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