Director’s message at the establishment of the educational unit CoHHO
Japan is a country of rich forests and surrounded by productive seas. Rains fall on the mountains and flow down to the sea, along the way nurturing forests, enriching people’s land and finally supporting marine productivity. This connectivity between forests, lands and seas through water is a two-way interaction between ecosystems and has close interrelationship with the activities and lifestyles of humans.
Human impacts have accumulated in natural systems and have interrupted the connectivity, so that serious environmental problems have arisen locally and throughout the world. However, up to a decade ago, forest scientists focused almost exclusively on forests and marine scientists focused on the seas. In our experience, scientists working within narrow fields, while contributing greatly, cannot solve the whole problem when missing the complexity of the connected ecosystems. Now, we recognize that understanding the ecological connectivity and its linkages with human activities are a key part of the solution to global environmental problems.
We at Kyoto University call this concept the ‘Connectivity of Hills, Humans and Oceans (CoHHO)’. Through the education and research of CoHHO, we aim to restore ecosystem health and quality of life for humans. In the study of CoHHO, the understanding of natural ecosystems and the management of social systems are crucial to achieve a sustainable human society. That is, studies of CoHHO involve both natural sciences and social sciences such as economics, law, sociology, etc., We have established the educational unit of CoHHO to implement the education program for graduate school students in Kyoto University. We hope many talents with wide interdisciplinary views and expertise will be produced from this program and play important roles in civil society, policy making and administration.
Director of the Educational Unit for CoHHO