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Using sustainability science to analyse social-ecological restoration in NE Japan after the great earthquake and tsunami of 2011
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
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2014 (English)In: Sustainability Science, ISSN 1862-4065, E-ISSN 1862-4057, Vol. 9, no 4, 513-526 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that devastated part of northeastern Japan in March 2011, proposals for reconstruction and rehabilitation are still subjects of debate. The claim by many climate scientists that large-scale extreme events can be expected in the future, with similar catastrophic effects in coastal areas, suggests the need for long-term planning that aims at building resilience, the ability for socio-ecological systems to withstand and recover quickly from natural disasters, and continue to develop. We hypothesize that ecosystems and socio-economic resilience will provide affected communities with flexible barriers against future disasters and greater protection in the long run than will hard/engineering solutions such as high seawalls aimed at ensuring only physical security. Building social/ecological resilience in the Tohoku region will increase general security and is anticipated also to contribute to an enhanced quality of life now and for generations to come. This paper argues that building resilience in the affected area requires a transformation to sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries and we describe how the links between satoyama and satoumi, traditional rural territorial and coastal landscapes in Japan, can contribute to this revitalization and to strengthening the relationship between local residents and the landscape in the affected communities. Decision makers at local, regional and national levels need to take a holistic approach based on sustainability science to understand the inter-relationships between these landscapes and ecosystems to develop a robust rebuilding plan for the affected communities. Moreover, this paper suggests that building resilient communities in Japan that demonstrate the strategic benefits of satoyama and satoumi linkages can be a model for building resilient rural and urban communities throughout the world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 9, no 4, 513-526 p.
Keyword [en]
Social-ecological resilience, Great NE Japan earthquake and tsunami, Sanriku Fukko National Park, Satoyama and Satoumi
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-110142DOI: 10.1007/s11625-014-0257-5ISI: 000344337500009OAI: diva2:771502


Available from: 2014-12-14 Created: 2014-12-08 Last updated: 2014-12-14Bibliographically approved

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Elmqvist, Thomas
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