Mr. Kamiya majored in the ecology of brackish water in Shimane University, and has devoted himself to the management of the Yonago Mizutori Koen (Yonago Waterbird Sanctuary) since its establishment in 1995. He is the national coordinator for the EAAFP Anatidae Network for Japan, facilitating the communication and cooperation among the scientists and conservationists in Japan. He says, “when I enter into Nakaumi where the Yonago Mizutori Koen is located, I notice how small I am compared to nature and how easily even a little rain or wind can affect me. Migratory waterbirds here experience this every day, which is a very impressive fact for me, and I try my best to maintain this Park so that is remains an easy and cozy place for them.”
Yonago Mizutori Koen is a sanctuary for waterbirds located at Nakaumi, a brackish water lake in Yonago, Tottori, Japan. It has a nature centre which faces to the Tsubasa (Wing) Pond, a 17 ha pond surrounded by reed beds. Visitors can observe waterbirds from the centre. In winter, Tundra Swans and Greater White-fronted Geese, a Natural Monument of Japan, come and sleep in the pond. In addition, there are lots of ducks gathering here including Common Shelduck, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck and Common Pochard. Since the Sanctuary is an important habitat for Anatidae species, Yonago Mizutori Koen is designated as an East Asian-Australasian Flyway Network Site, and also included in the Ramsar site as a part of the Nakaumi Ramsar Site.
This Sanctuary used to be a reclaimed area for a national construction plan to turn Nakaumi into a freshwater lake. Shortly after the reclamation started, many waterbirds gathered in this area which was planned to be agricultural land. Citizens found this and started conservation and awareness raising activities including weekly bird watching, a drawing contest, and fund raising activities to protect this area as a waterbird habitat. In 1992, Yonago City decided to buy the land in order to protect the area as a waterbird sanctuary, which took place 10 years prior to the cancellation of the plan to convert Nakaumi into freshwater lake.
The Sanctuary is now managed by Nakaumi Waterbird International Fund Foundation that is funded by Yonago City and Tottori Prefecture. The Foundation has implemented various programmes including interpretation for visitors, wetland management activities, awareness raising activities for students, international wetland exchange, and research. Such programmes are supported by the citizen volunteer group “Friends of the Yonago Mizutori Park” which was established by the citizens who stood up for the designation of the Sanctuary. The Park enables citizens to join in the management activities since this sanctuary has been supported by the citizens since its establishment.
How have you engaged with local members of the community to help promote your site?
- We approach the voluntary social service organisations such as Soroptimist Japan Foundation, Rotary Club, Lions Club, that already exists in the area, and the local electricity and gas companies and Japan Post, to plan to include Yonago Mizutori Park’s annual activities such as book reading for kindergarten children, weeding, and donation, in their annual work plans.
- We organised drawing contests for kindergarten children and elementary school students. Through the call for submissions, presentation of awards, and the exhibition of artworks, we were also able to involve the participation of parents.
- We work together with the local community to organize a fishing competition and a walking tournament to enhance local people’s health and enjoy the nature around the Sanctuary. We served the participants local traditional dishes that use local wetland products, trying to contribute to the continuation of the local food culture.
- We organize Children’s Ramsar Club, gathering local elementary school students every month. The graduates can join the Junior Ranger Club that is for junior high school and high school students. The members of the Junior Ranger Club voluntarily help with the activities and event organization at the Yonago Mizutori Koen. In addition, the parents of the students tend to start helping us while bringing their children to the Park.
- We have a citizen volunteer group “Friends of the Yonago Mizutori Koen” to help the activities of the Sanctuary. We also invite them for regular meetings to discuss about collaborative activity planning.
- The establishment of the Nakaumi Waterbird International Fund Foundation enables us to bring local students to other wetland sites to study about their activities and wetland management. The students report what they have learned in the reporting session that is held annually.