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Tetsuya Hanamura - Environmental Management on Mt. Fuji and Mountains in Japan


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Tetsuya Hanamura
Environmental Management on Mt. Fuji and Mountains in Japan.

Declared a World Cultural Heritage site in 2013, Japan's Mt Fuji is a sacred place for worship and a source of artistic inspiration worldwide. In 2013, some 300,000 people climbed Mt. Fuji during the two months of July and August. The scale of such impact is a huge challenge. Dr. Hanamura described mountain management for this large numbers of visitors, including trash minimization and mountain toilet problems. He also described environmental practices in other Japanese mountains, including garbage clean up, human waste management, and the protection of alpine flowers and animals.

Dr. Hanamura is Vice President, International Relations, and Editor of the monthly magazine of the Japan Workers Alpine Federation (JWAF) which has 20,000 members. He is also a Member of the Coordination Committee for Mountain Conservation, consisting of seven mountain associations in Japan, and was a member of the drafting committee of the JWAF Declaration on the Preservation of Nature that came into effect in 2006. He received his MS Civil Engineering from UC Berkeley and his doctorate from Kyoto University and was Professor of Civil Engineering at Okayama (National) University from 2000-2009.

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Tetsuya Hanamura - Environmental Management on Mt. Fuji and Mountains in Japan

  1. 1. Environmental Management of Mt. Fuji and Mountains in Japan July 21, 2014 Tetsuya Hanamura, PhD. Member of Coordination Committee for Mountain Conservation consists of 7 Mountain Associations in Japan Vice president, Japan Workers Alpine Federation 1
  2. 2. WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE REGISTERED IN 2013 MT. FUJI, A NATIONAL SYMBOL OF JAPAN as Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration 2
  3. 3. Sacred Place as Religious Beliefs  In the early Heian Period (9th century), a Sengen Shrine was built at Mt. Fuji's northern base in order to quell any eruptions.  In the late Heian Period (11th century), Mt. Fuji became a center for the ascetic practices of the Shugen-do religion. By the Muromachi Period both the Murayama Mountain Trail (later replaced by the Omiya Trail) and the Yoshida Trail were opened, and Mt. Fuji became widely known as a sacred mountain for the devout to climb.  Mt. Fuji is traditionally divided into three zones from its base to its summit: the grassy area to represent the mundane world, the forest line to represents the transient between this world and the world of the gods, and the burned area being covered by volcanic lapillus, to represent the realm of the gods, Buddha, and death. The climbing and descending of Mt. Fuji, thus represented travel from the world of the living to the world of the dead and back, through which the devout could wash away the sins and impurities they had accrued on this world.  The spirit of this unique mountain-climbing worship remains alive today. Religious artifacts such as small shrines, stone monuments, and a variety of rituals can be seen in and around the mountain trails. Mountain climbers about 100 years ago Sengen Shrine At present (Courtesy of Yamanashi prefecture) 3
  4. 4. Source of Artistic Inspiration  Mt. Fuji has been the inspiration for a number of works of art since the days of old, thanks to its grandiose, solitary, and beautiful shape; the otherworldly landscapes it provides-such as that of a snow-capped mountain or an erupting volcano. Ukiyo-e (Japanese Woodblock Prints) of the early19th century (Yamanashi Prefecture) (Japanpost stamps) 4
  5. 5. Why Mt. Fuji is Cultural Heritage, instead of Natural Heritage?  Judgement from World Natural Heritage standards  Conical shape and volcanic activity of Mt. Fuji are not so unique compared with other similar mountains in the world.  Most crucial point was that Mt. Fuji had serious environmental problems of garbage and human waste.  Garbage were existed on the trail from littering by tourists and hikers, and at the foot of Mt. Fuji by illegal dumping of waste by some businesses and local residents.  Human waste had been left on trails up the mountain and been discharged directly on the surface of rock from the toilets of mountain huts that was called “white river”.  Even though the World Cultural Heritage, World Heritage Committee pointed out environmental problems.  The committee have requested that the Japanese government submit a written report by 2016 about preservation of the state of the site, which is to feature strategies on how to deal with the anticipated increase in visitors to Mount Fuji. 5 Though Japan at first aimed to have Mt. Fuji inscribed on the World Natural Heritage list from 1992, Mt. Fuji was not judged to be out of common by World Natural Heritage standards, as follows.
  6. 6. The Feature of Mt. Fuji to climb Height of 3,776m  Officially admitted time period of climbing had been in July and August in the past, and have extended to mid- September from this year.  There are four official routes to the summit during Summer Season.(Right figure)  Fujinomiya Trail from Fujinomiya 5th Station(2,400m high)  Gotemba Trail from Gotemba 5th Station (1,450m)  Subashiri Trail from Subashiri 5th Station (2,000m)  Yoshida Trail from Yoshida 5th Station (2,300m) 6
  7. 7. SPECIAL FEATURES OF MT. FUJI Large number of Visitors  Big numbers of visitors (hikers)  300,000 visitors a year, in only two months of July and August  Around 10,000 visitors a day as a maximum number Top 3 Date in 2013 Visitors a day 1 July 14 (Sun) 10,040 2 July 27 (Sat) 9,691 3 Aug 3 (Sat) 9,556 Top three days in 2013 From high visitors a day 320,975 310,721 (Courtesy of Shizuoka Prefecture) 7
  8. 8. Accidents Trend in Mt. Fuji  Major accidents occurred during in summer (81%) by the data in 2013.  Accident ratio of the dead and injured was 0.03% in summer 2013 in Mt. Fuji.  Accidents have increased as the numbers of visitors increased.  Accidents in summer were mostly light injury or safely rescued. Accidents in Mt. Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture (courtesy of Shizuoka Prefectural Police ) Accident ratio was 2.7 people per 10,000 people in 2013 8
  9. 9. Accidents Trend in Mt. Fuji  Major causes of Summer accidents are the altitude sickness, fell-down and fatigue as shown in yellow box.  Accidents in all seasons include hypothermia, lose way, and slide falling, mostly occurred in winter as shown in blue box. 9 (Data by Shizuoka Prefecture Police)
  10. 10. Feature of Visitors who occur Accidents  Most of Visitors to Mt. Fuji climbing are newcomers.  Japanese 65% and Foreigners 85% of Visitors were newcomers to Mt. Fuji (2011 Ministry of Environment).  For most Japanese, Mt. Fuji is the mountain longing for to climb once in a life.  General people as well as mountaineers have interests to climb Mt. Fuji.  From younger kids to aged people want to climb Mt. Fuji.  Some foreigners would like to climb the highest mountain in Japan when they visit.  There were 42 accidents done by foreigners in 5 years between 2008 and 2012.  In 2013 summer, the people who died and injured in Mt Fuji were all greenhorn hikers instead of general mountaineers by the data of Shizuoka Prefecture Police.  The Police concluded that people who came across accidents in Mt. Fuji were all “tourist climbers” in 2013, and distinguished them from the general mountaineers.  The Police defined “tourist climbers” as the hikers who did not have sufficient wears and equipment, enough physical strength, knowledge and mental attitude for high mountain and disease. 10
  11. 11. Difference between Mountaineers and Greenhorn Hikers  Mountaineer attitude for climbing or trekking more than 2,500 m high  They prepare plans to climb or trek, check weather and prepare for bivouac in an emergency.  They bring wears and equipment such as map, compass, head lamp, rainwear, spare clothes, meals and snacks, drink water, some medicines and medical articles against heat attack, hypothermia, muscle clamp, etc. and emergency equipment or tools.  Greenhorn hikers attitude toward Mt. Fuji  They don’t consider that Mt. Fuji is high enough of 3, 776m, and have not knowledge of altitude sickness.  They don’t prepare against sudden change of weather of single tower mountain of Mt. Fuji, and high altitude. (Pictures are from free photo site) 11
  12. 12.  Actually there was no management in the public side.  Only mountain huts took the initiative of the management for the visitors.  Mountain huts had provided accommodation and foods for the climbers to the summits.  By the effort of huts, most of visitors can safely be accommodated and climb Mt. Fuji. Mountain huts took the initiative of the management for visitors. 12
  13. 13. How was the Actual Management of Visitors (Hikers) in 10 years ago.  Mountain huts had provided accommodation and foods for the climbers to the summits.  However accommodation and foods were very poor. What mountain huts did were minimum accommodation requirements, mainly place to sleep and food to recover the energy.  Visitors had to sleep in a small place jam packed. Food was poor compared with high price of lodging.  Furthermore, two big problems had existed. Those were the disposals of the human waste and the garbage. 13 Though mountain huts took the initiative, was management enough? Remained site of human wastes in the open-air near the mountain peak in 2009 Human wastes had been discharged directly to the open-air hill side, that was called “White River” containing human wastes and toilet tissues. Garbage near the mountain peak on Subashiri Route in 2006
  14. 14. Turning to the integrated management among private, public and local sectors.  Public sectors of both Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures headed Mt. Fuji for obtaining World Heritage registration.  1994: Coordinating Committee for Mt. Fuji to World Heritage was set up privately and collected 2.2 million signatures. The Committee submitted a petition to the National Government and the Diet.  1996: “ Mt. Fuji Clean Operation” had started by both Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures (local governments).  1997: “Joint Declaration of Mt. Fuji Environmental Preservation” was announced, and “ Mt. Fuji Summit” Conference was held by both Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures.  1998: “Mt. Fuji Charter” was officially announced by both Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures.  2005: A petition of “Mt. Fuji for World Heritage Registration” was submitted to the Government.  2007: Mt. Fuji was nominated as the official World Heritage Site candidate at the June 2007 UNESCO World Heritage Committee Meeting.  Garbage were existed on the trail from littering by tourists and hikers, and at the foot of Mt. Fuji from illegal dumping of waste by some businesses and local residents.  Human waste had been left on trails up the mountain and been discharged directly from the toilets of mountain huts that was called “white river”.  2011: Drafting of World Heritage Nomination Proposal, and submittal to the National Government  2012: Submittal of a Nomination Draft to UNESCO  2013: Inscription as a World Heritage Site (UNESCO)  Since Mt. Fuji Clean Operation in 1996, the public sectors have been involved. Both Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures have tried to manage the way to the World Heritage. 14 Heading for the World heritage registration
  15. 15. The Basic Policy of Management for of Mt. Fuji (1)  Public sectors of National and Local Governments (Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures) direct management, support and cooperate the private and local sectors to promote the safety of visitors, mountain trails maintenance, garbage and human wastes clean-ups, by recognizing the role of the mountain huts.  Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures have responsibilities to promote visitors to climb safely, manage trail maintenance and trail patrol, promote patrol and collection of illegal dumping of garbage, direct mountain huts to change toilets to environmentally friendly ones and subsidize their expenses.  Local governments advise visitors to do safe hiking and not to do so called “ Bullet climbing” that is to climb at night and descend during daytime, for it is dangerous and gets tired.  As a trial base of entrance fee, the “Cooperative Fund for Environmental Conservation of Mount Fuji” has been requested to visitors to pay 1,000 yen (roughly 10 USD) by local governments in 2014.  Fund money will be used for the Environmental Conservation of Mt. Fuji. 15 There is no admission restriction and no number limit of visitors in Mt. Fuji.
  16. 16.  Private sector of mountain huts have responsibilities of accommodation of visitors, toilet and human wastes disposal, garbage disposal in and near the huts.  Reservation policy based on accommodation capacity is recommended for the mountain huts.  Reservation at the mountain hut is recommended for visitor to do as a must.  Between mountain huts and travel agents, tie-up for reservation has been promoted.  Visitors are recommended to stay one night in mountain huts, or to climb and descend in the daytime for the safe hiking.  Volunteers and residents make efforts to clean the mountain including the foot of mountain. 16The Basic Policy of Management of Mt. Fuji (2) There is no admission restriction and no number limit of visitors in Mt. Fuji.
  17. 17. Visitors Management from mountain huts initiative to integration among private, public and local sectors  Public Sector  Official Web site for Mt. Fuji Climbing by the Ministry of the Environment, Yamanashi & Shizuoka Prefectures  Mountain rangers, patrol of trails and illegal dumping of garbage.  Promotion of clean-up activities.  Private Sector  Collaboration between Mountain Huts and Travel Agents  Local Sector  Collaboration between Local Resident and NPO 17 Management activities promoted by each sector (1/2)
  18. 18. 18 Management activities promoted by each sector (2/2)
  19. 19. Environmental Problems in Mt. Fuji  Maintaining of mountain trails for the safe walking  Keeping good trails for hikers  Garbage removal in and at the foot of Mountain  Promotion of prevention from littering garbage  Promotion of taking garbage home  prevention of illegal garbage dumping at the foot of mountain  Disposal of human waste  Supply of toilets with eco-system  Transportation of excreta sludge  Preservation of botanical biodiversity 19
  20. 20. Maintenance of mountain trails for safe walking  Volcanic rock of Mt. Fuji is relatively weak compared with hard rock. Mountain trails are gradually excavated by hikers.  Sometimes trail route had been replaced with new ones mainly from the safety reasons.  Though trail replacement in other mountains in Japan are carefully selected to preserve mountain floras. However in Mt. Fuji, very few flowers are grown on the volcanic rocks by the severe climate in higher places.  Main concern on the trail is not the matter of deterioration of trails but the safety of visitors for walking. Since the mountain deterioration occurs by the severe climate changes, such as avalanches of earth and rocks by snow, ices and heavy rains. Relatively weak rock on the surface 20
  21. 21. Garbage removal on the Mountain Trail Garbage near the mountain peak on Subashiri Route in 2006 Almost no garbage on the trails, at present 21
  22. 22. Promotion of Mountaineer’s habit to prevent from littering garbage and taking garbage back home  Prevention from littering garbage is commonly understood among Japanese mountaineers.  Taking garbage back home activity is also understood among mountaineers in Japan.  There is almost no garbage on the trail all over mountains in Japan.  Garbage can be seen only on the road side in the mountain where drivers throw garbage, such as cigarette butts, plastic bottles, cans, etc.  Even tissues used for excretion by mountaineers are also brought home.  This habit was originally influenced by the “Shame culture” of the Japanese mind.  Once most of people understand that it is shameful to litter garbage in the mountain and spoil mountain nature, they promote activities of taking garbage home as natural habits.  Japanese mountaineers now consider the habits as “Culture to be proud of” instead of “ Shame culture”. 22
  23. 23. 23 (courtesy of NPO Fujisan Club) Garbage map of Mt. Fuji Legend Cars Tires Cans Home appliances Furniture Papers Scrap materials Unknown Others NPO Fujisan Club investigated the existence of garbage throughout Mt. Fuji area and made map.
  24. 24. Clean the Mountain on the trails and in the forests Clean Hike on the Trail Departure Ceremony of Clean Hike Collection of Small pieces of garbage such as medical wastes of glasses, needles, plastic bags and bottles. 24 Clean the forests
  25. 25. Clean Mt. Fuji at the foot of a mountain from the road side to the forest zone Gathering cigarette butts, plastic bags, tissues, cans, pet bottles, etc. from the roadside by volunteers that were mostly thrown by car drivers Gradually garbage is decreasing by the upsurge of environmental awareness and the surveillance of governmental agencies. Illegal Disposal of Garbage Watch and Collection of Illegally Dumped Materials 25 Road side Deep road side and in the forest
  26. 26. Eco-friendly toilets have been introduced in the mountain huts in Mt. Fuji  The toilets in the mountain lodges on Mt. Fuji were previously infamous for the smelly "white rivers" of human wastes and toilet papers. They had been discharged directly on the mountain's surface.  But now, all of these toilets have been redesigned and renovated as eco-friendly toilets that do not release human wastes outside.  Mountain environment was greatly improved. 26
  27. 27. Disposal of human wastes has been changed dramatically and systematically Human wastes in the open-air near the mountain peak in 2009 Bio-toilet using sawdust Human wastes had been discharged directly to the open- air hill side, that was called “White River” containing human wastes and toilet tissues. Development of eco-friendly toilets Courtesy of Shizuoka Prefecture 27
  28. 28. Eco Friendly Toilets have been arranged and renovated in Mt. Fuji  Bio-toilet using sawdust  Sawdust is used to stimulate microorganisms, which help break down the waste. They do not require water, making them perfect for environments such as Mt. Fuji.  Recycled Water (Oyster Shell) Toilet (Bio toilet)  Water and oyster shells are put into the treatment cistern, and microorganisms from the shells break down the waste. The water is contained in a reusable loop, allowing these toilets to be used just like normal flush toilets.  Incinerator Toilet  Oil burners evaporate / incinerate the waste product. They produce no sewage, and only a minimal level of ash. If rain water is available, they can be used as simple flush-style toilets as well. Courtesy of Shizuoka Prefecture 28
  29. 29. History of eco friendly toilet renovation program in Mt. Fuji 1998 Mt. Fuji Toilet Research Group was set up. 1998-2001 Experiment of Proof of Concept of Eco Friendly Toilets started. 2001 Final report of Mt. Fuji Toilet Research Group was issued. 2002-2005 Renovation and installation work of eco friendly toilets had conducted. Total renovated and installed toilets: 24 Total project cost: 488.8 million yen (roughly 5 million USD) Subsidies: ( 50% from National G. 25% from Prefecture, 12.5% from City ) Processing system: 1) Bio-toilet using sawdust, 2) Recycled Water (Oyster Shell) Toilet , 3) Incinerator Toilet 29
  30. 30. Newly constructed eco friendly toilets 30 Sawdust type of Bio-toilet constructed at the top of Mt. Fuji in 2002 Recycled Water (Oyster Shell) type of Bio-toilet constructed at the 5th station hut of Mt. Fuji in 2002
  31. 31. Volume reduced human wastes (sludge) have to be carried down by caterpillar type carrier (Buldozer) 31 By the use of eco friendly toilets, Human wastes are decomposed and the weight and volume are dramatically reduced. However the sludge or decomposed liquid have to be carried down from mountain huts to the foot of mountain.
  32. 32. The1,086 individual bodies of the endangered 12 species plant were discovered and confirmed by the preservation patrol of botanical biodiversity in the 32 km long hiking trails. 32 Preservation of botanical biodiversity (courtesy of Shizuoka Prefecture) Hiking trails
  33. 33. Enhancement of the consciousness of environment preservation 33 PR by Fujisan Network for the environmental Preservation PR, explanation and gathering information by MT. Fuji Eco-Ranger Distribution of manner guide book for visitors, written in many languages
  34. 34. Environmental issues of mountains in general in Japan  Garbage on the mountain trail and clean up efforts  Though it is hard to find garbage on the trail, clean-up efforts have been continued.  “Taking garbage home activity” has been educated among mountaineers and expanding among Japanese people.  Human waste management  Two systems of each extreme edge have been gradually expanding in Japan.  One is a portable toilet and the another is the eco friendly toilet  Protection of Alpine flora and animals  Protection of endangered species of flora and animals 34
  35. 35. Garbage on the mountain trail and clean up efforts  Though garbage on the trail is decreasing and cannot be seen easily, still some of insolent people throw some garbage. To pick up garbage from the trail is the continuous effort for mountaineers in Japan.  Clean Hike Day on first Sunday of June, 40 years of experience in JWAF. 35
  36. 36. Human waste management  Portable toilet is one end of mountain toilets, and sold in the market.  In some mountain area in Japan the portable toilet is advised to use.  Portable toilet booths are arranged in the advised place.  Eco friendly toilet is another end of mountain toilets.  Eco friendly toilet is expanding rapidly in many mountain huts. 36 Portable toilet and eco friendly toilet Portable toilet booth Eco friendly toilet in Mt. Fuji Portable toilet on the market
  37. 37. Far end, human waste have been carried down by volunteers to the foot of mountain in Japan  Accumulated sludge from Mt. Daisen (1,709m high) toilet is bottled in plastic bottles as seen in the picture.  Each bottle is 2 liter in volume and weighs 2kg. Volunteer individually wrapped the bottle by a plastic bag and carried down in the rucksack to the foot of mountain. 37
  38. 38. Ideal toilets in the future for the mountain huts  Expansion of bio-toilets needs some of difficulties to solve. Followings are musts to solve.  Heating for bacteria activation:  It is necessary for bacteria to warm up and activate in the container. Continuous heating system is necessary, either by oil heater or electric heater.  Transportation means:  Some of the extruded sludge or liquid have to be transported to the foot of mountain, either by pipeline, helicopter, kind of bulldozer, or human power to carry them down.  Maintaining the toilet:  Maintenance efforts are necessary for temperature control, water volume control, and feeding bacteria bait. Somebody has to be in the huts or come to the huts in case of necessary. 38 Separated excreta and urine will be used for soil conditioner and fertilizer by using bio-toilet system.
  39. 39. Protection of Alpine flora and animals Inspection of Alpine Flora Production and supply of young plants by local governments Volunteer work for Planting 39
  40. 40. Protection of mountain plants from wildlife animals 40 Feeding damage by deer is increasing in Japan.
  41. 41. Future Management of Mt. Fuji and Visitors  Safety of visitors to climb Mt. Fuji is the main concern.  PPL (Public, Private and Local Sectors) will collaborate to welcome visitors to climb Mt. Fuji.  PPL will keep the basic policy of no admission restriction and no number limit of visitors in Mt. Fuji.  PPL will collaborate to preserve good environment in Mt. Fuji  Mountain toilets are crucial for keeping up of human waste management.  Mountain trails will be kept clean by the policy of taking garbage home.  Garbage clean-up activities by volunteers and residents, and governmental garbage surveillance will continue.  Decrease in quantities of garbage will be continually pursued, not only in the mountain, but also at the foot of mountain. 41
  42. 42. Thank you 42