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Discussion on the Form of a Sustainable Society Acceptable in Each Area

2013.03.28

Unit Name:
Practice of the Balance Between Development and Environmental Conservation in Arid Land
Unit representative:
Associate Professor Mitsuteru Irie, Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences

Unit members:
8 (6 faculty members, no postdoctoral fellows, 2 from other organizations)

Key words:
water resources, biological resources, arid areas, ecosystem

URL:

Although Japan has bountiful water resources, many areas in the world are facing water shortages. Water shortages are closely associated with not only water environments, but also locality of land development, environmental conservation, and economic activities. Therefore, it is necessary to develop technologies suitable for each area and promote custom-made technologies required in communities to eliminate water shortages. Our research unit: “Practice of the Balance between Development and Environmental Conservation in Arid Land”, is involved in practical research to address problems in arid regions through concrete actions.

Effective use of accumulated sediment – An obstacle to securing water resources

To implement sustainable development in arid and semi-arid regions, in which only limited resources are available, it is needless to say that the accurate estimation of the resources and technological development for the advanced use of the resource is indispensable. In addition, in order to spread that developed technologies to the society, evaluating its economic benefit and showing it to the stakeholders are also required. For example, although dams were being built to secure water resources in Tunisia, in which joint research has been conducted, some of them have started to be filled in by sediment. There is no remain of land suitable for the construction of new dams in Tunisia. So that, finally, the available water resources in that country has been gradually reduced. The only way to solve this problem is the sustainable use of existing dams by maintaining them. Excavating accumulated sediment, which is simplest countermeasure, is costly and big burden especially for developing countries. Our unit members have been discussing what product should be developed to effectively utilize sediment on the bottom to cover the expenses of dredge (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Scene of the measurement of sediment accumulated in a reservoir in the north of Tunisia

Figure 1: Scene of the measurement of sediment accumulated in a reservoir in the north of Tunisia

Way of development matching with local characteristics can be only accomplished by multidisciplinary research

In order to develop the area which has a problem, the application of only one technology is not sufficient. Existing technologies should be redesigned and modified while respecting the social culture rooted in the area, so that the technologies are accepted. Such a problem cannot be solved by a group of researchers from a single field alone. Researchers specializing in humanities, society, and economics are required for the surveys of the social environment, and ecological and environmental researchers are required for the surveys of biological and water resources. In our case studies, multiple viewpoints are combined in order to examine the appropriate form of society in each region (Figure 2).

Figure 2: A model of regional development utilizing sediment accumulated on the bottom of a dam (Tunisia)

Figure 2: A model of regional development utilizing sediment accumulated on the bottom of a dam (Tunisia)

Social contributions and achievements
● Presentation of specific case studies on sustainable development in arid areas
● Promotion of cooperation in development based on science and technology in study site
● International academic exchanges (Figure 3)

Figure 3: Field trip with the National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia

Figure 3: Field trip with the National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia

(Interviewed on July 12, 2013)


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