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Establishing new technology for balancing water hazard prevention and conservation for regional ecosystems

Associate Professor of River Environmental Studies and Applied Ecosystem Engineering

Kazuya Watanabe

Locations which are both beautiful and dangerous

I conduct surveys and research on the water environment surrounding us and on methods for efficient use of that environment. My work spans many fields both domestically and overseas (Southeast Asia), ranging from mountainous stream, main stream sources, rice fields, and coastal areas. The origin and center of my research is the mountainous stream region of Yamagata Prefecture. This region possesses otherworldly beauty. Regions like this are assets of Japan and the protection of regional ecosystems is an important mission of ours to future generations. Conversely, almost all mountain streams are specified as “dangerous mountain streams” which can lead to disasters. In order to protect the lives and property of citizens, government institutions are implementing numerous water hazard control measures such as erecting sabo dams and developing bank protection works. These measures have a variety of effects on the scenery and ecosystems of regions with mountainous stream.

Observation and analysis through the eyes of living organisms

The establishment of new technology is essential in order to balance water hazard control and conservation for regional ecosystems. In addition to knowledge and technology based on civil engineering, knowledge on ecosystems is essential to our surveys and research. A very efficient method is to define “index organisms” for each target water environment and then ascertain actual conditions by observing their ecological behavior. In many cases, we are able to make new discoveries by repeatedly visiting actual ecosystems and observing conditions through diverse perspectives.

Let’s go out now!

In addition to academic results, we seek to apply those results to the establishment and general availability of technology. This is accomplished through repeated interaction in the field with regional fishery cooperatives, citizens, private corporations, and governmental agencies, etc., as well as repeated practical implementation.

How about joining us in the hills and fields on our investigative research?