500 Important Wetlands in Japan WETLANDS - WHERE WATER MEETS LIFE

Rain and snowmelt flow down towards the sea from the mountain heights, watering forests and marshes and filling lakes and ponds along the way. Living things grow along the water's stream, which supports our daily lives as well.

The word "wetland" is a general term for water areas found in between headwaters and shallow shores - from water areas in the mountains, mires, lakes, marshes, rivers, man-made water channels, to coastal areas such as tidal flats, mangrove forests, coral reefs, seaweed beds, and seagrass beds. It refers to these meeting places of water and life.

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500 Important Wetlands in Japan
Wetlands, such as mires and tidal flats, form a unique ecosystem, providing the habitat for various species of fauna and flora. Proper conservation of the wetlands is important because they also perform the essential function of water purification. As human activities have decreased and brought changes to wetlands in Japan, there is mounting demand in the nation for conservation. On the international front, the conservation of wetlands has also gained momentum. A resolution to double the number of registered wetlands was adopted in the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands in May 1999.

500 Important Wetlands in Japan
To obtain basic information for the formulation of policies to preserve Japan's wetlands, the Ministry of the Environment and Wetlands International Japan formed the Scientific Panel, consulted the opinions of many experts and selected wetlands that are of national importance. From the perspective of conserving biodiversity, 500 wetlands of national importance were designated, including mires, rivers, lakes, marshes, tidal flats, seaweed beds, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, and coral reefs. The Ministry of the Environment and Wetlands International Japan review the characteristics and regional conditions of these important wetlands in order to designate them as preservation areas. The Ministry and Wetlands International Japan also carry out public awareness activities to highlight the need for conserving these important wetlands and their surrounding areas.
Criteria for Selecting Important Wetlands
1. A typical or considerably large area of mires/salt marshes, rivers/lakes and marshes, tidal flats/mangrove forests, seaweed/seagrass beds, or coral reefs that provides the habitat/spawning ground for living organisms
2. An area that provides the habitat/spawning ground for rare or endemic species
3. An area with rich biota
4. An area that provides the habitat for a considerably large population of a specified species
5. An area that is indispensable (feeding and spawning grounds, etc.) in the life history of a living organism