The Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund

Introduction to Grant Projects

Akiko Sakai, Associate Professor, Division of Natural Environment and Information Research, Yokohama National University Graduate School of Environment and Information Sciences

Research on conflicts between international nature preservation standards and local development efforts through comparison analysis and measures of improvement of UNESCO World Heritage sites and UNESCO Eco Parks

Research grant

Project Description

Designations of international biosphere preservation such as UNESCO World Heritage Sites have the potential to ignore local values and efforts in favor of "global standards" imposed by the international society as a whole. In contrast with this, other global initiatives such as the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) respect locally-driven approaches to biosphere preservation. For example, while there has been global debate over the culling of Steller Sea Lions and the removal of river dams at Shiretoko, Hokkaido Prefecture, the Aya Eco Park in Miyazaki Prefecture has been lauded internationally as a model of biosphere preservation. In this study, we investigate the difference in the international opinion regarding Shiretoko and Aya and present a new assessment of the Japan's natural preserves.

Grant year
FY2013 Research Grants
Grant term
3 years
April 2014 - March 2017
Grant amount
8,496,000 yen
Activity region
Regions designated or recommended for designation as UNESCO Eco Parks (Aya, Shiroyama, Mt. Odaigahara/Mt. Omine, Yakushima, Shiga Kogen, Tadami, Southern Alps, etc.) and regions designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Shiretoko, etc.)
A presentation of measures on biosphere preservation undertaken around the world at an international MAB conference. Japan is highly regarded.

Overview of the Organization

Akiko Sakai, Associate Professor
Akiko Sakai, Associate Professor
Specialist field
Plant ecology, environmental conservation, evolutionary ecology, forestry science
Affiliated academic societies
The Ecological Society of Japan, The Japanese Forest Society, Ecological Society of America
Completed doctoral program at the Chiba University Graduate School Division of Science and Technology. Worked as a research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (PD) and as an assistant professor at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Life Sciences before taking up current role as assistant professor at Yokohama National University in 2009. Joined the Japanese Coordinating Committee for MAB as a member in 2007 and currently operates as vice chair out of her research laboratory. Doctor of Science (DSc).
WEB site
Affiliated institutions
Japanese Coordinating Committee for MAB, The Nature Conservation Society of Japan, The Ecological Society of Japan Expert Committee on Nature Conservation (planned)
Research record
  • (1) R. KITAGAWA, H. KONDO, and A. SAKAI. "Spatial pattern of forest structure mediated by topography in a steep mountain basin in west Tanzawa, Japan." Journal of Forest Research vol.19, pp.205-214, 2014.
  • (2) SAKAI et al. "Do sexual dimorphisms in reproductive allocation and new shoot biomass increase with an increase of altitude? A case of the shrub willow Salix reinii (Salicaceae)." American Journal of Botany vol.93. pp.988-992, 2006.
  • (3) Published an introductory level book (Why do we protect the ecosystems?) and planned and executed acadmic society meetings and side events in connection with the Convention on Biological Diversity's COP 10 conference. Provides counsel to local authorities and assists in the global dissemination of information.