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NatureInterface > No.08 > P025-027 [Japanese]

Expectation for Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring -- Toshiro Okada

Expectation for comprehensive environmental monitoring

TOSHIRO OKADA

Deputy Executive Director, Department of Planning, Chiba Prefectural Government

He worked as a counselor of Department of Planning, Chiba Prefectural Government since being transferred from Ministry of International Trade and Industry since July 1999. He has been in the current position since April 2000. He works on a collaboration of Kashiwa Campus, The University of Tokyo and local community, support for venture business and small and medium scale enterprises, and revitalization of Makuhari New City and Kazusa Academia Park.

Presently, public concern over the global environment is rising and the conventional framework of project adoption and its operation are coming into question. Given the situation, revisions of public work projects are being done frequently. And how to deal with it, from the government°«s standpoint, is our major task. Also, the amount of information we have is increasing rapidly as various research activities have been in progress, and we need to manage the information well in our system.

The urgent issues to be dealt with in Chiba Prefecture are illegal dumping of industrial waste and rebirth of Sanbanze tideland. Especially, NPO and people from the local community have already launched voluntary activities to treat the matter of revitalization of Sanbanze tideland, and we, the local government have started to tackle the problem considering those activities.

°»Chiba model°… that pursues citizen°«s participation and information disclosure

In Chiba Prefecture, we are currently struggling for a reform of the conventional style of administration, with the initiative of Ms. AKIKO DOMOTO, the Governor since April 2001. Although we had been operating in centralized style before, we would like to show the new form of decentralization in the activity on Sanbanze through the citizens°« participation and information disclosure from the stage of the decision- making process on the basis of °»Chiba model°…. Mr. SHIGEYUKI OKAJIMA, who serves as the chairman of the organization to investigate revision of Sanbanze tideland, which is commonly called °»round table meeting°… said °»We would like to seek a new form of measure process with citizens°« participation.°… Being on the administrative side, we are expected to coordinate it with our capabilities.

Information disclosure is one of the biggest issues. For example, in the case of dam construction, information about places where our drinking water comes from and the cash flows have not been disclosed much. However, it will be necessary to disclose information in a proper way especially for projects which create financial burden for the next few decades. We are planning to carry out the °»Chiba model°… with throughout information disclosure and citizens°« participation.

Moves to withdrawal of Sanbanze reclamation

Chiba Prefecture has made an effort to utilize Sanbanze tideland for the last 40 years. Since 1961, a project to reclaim Sanbanze for industrial purpose and a plan to construct sewage plant had been deliberated; an idea to equip harbor facilities was suggested in 1967. Although these ideas were supported in the 70°«s, environment-conscious movement was occurred at the beginning of the 80°«s. And it led to °»Environmental Conference,°… which was held in 1995. At last, the argument over the necessity of various investigations for reclamation and whether the projects should be progressed or not had been discussed until spring 2001. In fact, since the projects were first planned, no development was made over the last 40 years.

After the Governor Domoto was inaugurated, a plan to withdraw the reclamation project was revealed as a result of °»Sanbanze Forum,°… which was held twice in summer 2001 as citizens°« symposium. In the meantime, in response to the withdrawal of the reclamation, the argument was turned into the revitalization of Sanbanze. For this reason, the first °»Round-table Conference°… was held on January 28, 2002.

Although experts tend to weight a lot in the conventional composition of this kind of committee, the Round-table conference consists of environmentalist group such as NGO, fisheries cooperative representative, local residents, and representatives from local economic circles and industrial circles besides 9 academic experts. In addition, the nation, the prefecture, the city participate in the conference as observers. The efforts concerning Sanbanze are characterized by the unprecedented taken revitalization as well as its history, in which the purpose of the projects shifted from development to conservation and revitalization.

The role of environmental monitoring which explores natural dynamism

For the revitalization of Sanbanze tideland, various investigations have to be done first. And we need to collect information with the support of the latest scientific technology. Use of comprehensive environmental monitoring system will help the investigations of habitat of marine animals and birds, the effect of a concrete perpendicular seawall on the environment, and the cause of outbreak of red tide and blue tide.

Red tide and blue tide are the most important materials for the investigation. The most of Sanbanze lies in a shallow area, which is approximately 16-square kilometer large, and it is suspected that one of the causes of red tide and blue tide seen in Tokyo Bay should be found within this sea area. The reason is that in the past, sand taken from this area was used for reclamation of Tokyo Bay and it is said that a huge hole made by the digging was quite problematic. Organic matter such as dead phytoplankton is deposited into the hole and when it is broken down, hydrogen sulfide is generated. Oxygen-free water that stays in the hole is also thought to be the cause of blue tide in addition to the hydrogen sulfide.

Furthermore, the artificial boundary between the land and the ocean made by the reclamation projects of surrounding area and inflow of a lot of fresh water from the Edogawa drainage canal in case of flooding seem to have bad influence on environment.

In recent years, due to those factors, it is said that fishery resources have been reduced considerably. On the other hand, Sanbanze is inhibited by a variety of creatures such as shellfish including short-necked clam, sandworm, plankton, young fish of stone flounder and goby, and birds including dabbler, snipe, plover, and little tern. It is a fact that activities of those creatures actually provide environmental cleanup mechanism.

In order to keep the biological dynamism in Sanbanze tideland, it is necessary to have a stimulation to apply to the seawater area in the whole Tokyo Bay and we also need to collect information about the various creatures.

Moreover, challenges to be addressed for the future of Sanbanze tideland have become clear; revitalization of tideland by breaking up concrete perpendicular seawalls, connecting the land with the ocean throughout a natural boundary; reed bed, and utilization of Sanbanze tideland for environmental education, which includes bird-watching. The expectation we have for comprehensive environmental monitoring system is, therefore, enormous in order to meet the challenges.

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