Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (1): 96-104.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2017293

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The University Forests of Japan and implications for biodiversity conservation and national park development in China

Shitao Xu1, Xiqiang Song1, Peng Ling1, Yuanjun Chen2, Mingxun Ren1,*()   

  1. 1 Research Center for Terrestrial Biodiversity of South China Sea, Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Forestry, Hainan University,Haikou 570228
    2 Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8657 Japan
  • Received:2017-10-30 Accepted:2018-01-05 Online:2018-01-20 Published:2018-05-05
  • Contact: Ren Mingxun
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors

Abstract:

The University Forests of Japan are the forests and woodlands belonging to a university, which are established mainly for undergraduate education, scientific research, biodiversity conservation, and sometimes ecological tourism and wood production. Such systems of university forests are an important base for environmental protection and economic growth in Japan due to long-term stable conservation and utilization, resulting from clear responsibility, rights, and benefits. Currently, there are 30 universities that have university forests. In 1894, the University of Tokyo was the first university to set up a university forest. There are three main roles of a typical university forest, including agricultural and forestry education and practice, scientific research, and social service. University professors act as managers in charge of the university forest, and are engaged in both teaching and study, as well as management of the forest and determining how to open the forest to the public. Therefore, university forests can be a key platform for uniting education, research, conservation, and tourism. Such university forest systems help professors and the public to understand each other better and allow the public to get involved in biodiversity conservation. Currently, China is developing sustainable biodiversity conservation and national parks, therefore universities, especially those with agricultural and forestry colleges, should consider co-opting the university forest system utilized in Japan. Universities and professors should participate in the establishment and management of local nature reserves, national parks, city parks, or relatively isolated woodlands in these regions. When universities are engaged with the forest system, nature reserves, or national parks, academic knowledge and student participation can be of vital significance for the sustainable conservation of biodiversity and development of national parks in China.

Key words: Experimental forest, conservation biology, national park, nature education