Last day in the outdoors and using our boots, you will be missed. Since we had a break day the day before, it took my brain some time to process my surrounding and actually sink in the fact that I have actually move today. But I think today’s activity was the one I had most fun with. The moment the bus arrived at the lake, I wonder how deep are we going into the lake today since last time we didn’t get to explore much of the wetland. Since the boat was small, we had to take turns going to the sea grass bed site. While the first team went ahead, the others and I get to actually get into the lake. That was the fun part in my opinion. We went to the part reaching our waist and it actually was a great feeling being the water. Also, using this bucket thing we get to see the underwater ecosystem. We even caught glimpse of crabs. One more thing, who knew it would be that difficult. It was quite an amusing sight, all of us basically turned into tunas being fished out of the sea. Only after we got to the site did I realized how much of the area was covered by the sea grass. So we collected some of the sea grass and went back to the shore. To my surprise, there was actually a variety of life forms revolving around the sea grass. At first glance, there does not seem to be much. We even captured a number of fishes.
Since today is another free day, we had a pretty late start for the day. By just 30 minutes actually because everyone was tired from the consecutive activity days and preparations for the Wanda Grinda project. So after breakfast, the work continues. Each group had to present their progress and receive comments from the professors. I think some of the comments we received was the fact that our choice of topic was kind of too broad. The idea of presenting the wetland flow using the Olstrom framework was not bad but we should have a chosen a particular area to focus on; for example, asdfghjkl. In the end, we changed the whole draft again. Moving on, it was time for barbecue ! I was really looking forward to it since I guess it was my first real barbecue. I mean I always see it on television but I never actually get to experience. I think I had one in Malaysia before but I’m sure the way of doing it was different. I also made a self discovery on this day. I never knew I actually liked guarana drinks. I have drank guarana coffee before so I was expecting a bitter taste but rather it tasted sort of berry-like. Eventually, I ended up drinking 5 cans since the others didn’t really like it and gave theirs to me lol. Besides that, since Bibi and I were the only ones eating meat at our table we had everything all to ourselves. We didn’t even eat half of the amount and already felt full. There weren’t only beef and lamb but also salmon, squid, onigiri and some other stuff. When the other tables we were still eating, our table already moved on to the marshmallows. I actually left early because I felt kind of sick after drinking too much guarana. I drank calpis and milk tea after too so I think my stomach couldn’t handle processing too much variety of food. I ate so much I think that was probably a day’s worth of meal.
I have a mixed feeling while writing this. I am half glad that this is going to be my last blogpost to produce and finally be work free, but at the same time knowing that when I finish writing it will really be the end of this course. Regardless, everything has an end and I guess I just have to deal with it. For my last blog, I should write about our final presentation but I don’t have much to say about it to be honest, except to say we all did a great job.
I think the most important thing I learnt from this tip was the interconnected nature of the ecosystem that affect all living things in the environment. There is no single problem that can be solve by itself when it comes to environmental issue, and only with the skill to see the world with an open mind the closest path to see any improvement in the current situation. The importance of community building among different interest group is also a vital factor in conservation effort. The fundamental problem of the current environmental issue occurs not within the realm of the natural environment, but infant it occurs in the human community. By improving the human relationship through efforts to gain understanding of each other, I believe that it will eventually lead to better conservation.
It is best spend my last few words to thank Professor Watanabe and Ito for organising such a fantastic class and really hope that this class will continue so more students can experience the same as we did. And another person we must not for get to thank is Lise, who came along with us to support us in every way. I’m sure the trip would not have been the same without your care and support and the two professors most likely appreciated your shrewd personality more than anything! I will definitely miss this trip and most of all my intelligent classmates who gone through so much together!
All good things come to an end! After spending countless hours to prepare for our proposal, we finally had the opportunity to present our project and show to the stakeholders how much efforts we put to bring our piece to the complex puzzle of Hokkaido…. At first, I was pleased to see that nine people had come despite the heavy rain, and I was really looking forward to listening to their opinions about the different issues they are currently facing. However, I quickly became disillusioned once they had the occasion to share their thoughts regarding our three presentations. Indeed, from the moment they heard about a proposal concerning the cranes, they almost ignored any other topic presented.
I was therefore extremely disappointed by this Winda Granda Project. I believed we had the opportunity to present a proposal that might give them another perspective and maybe eventually help them to develop a project. However, it seemed to me that apart from the necessity to protect the cranes in Hokkaido, they did not really have other opinion. Even the article in the newspaper about this event doesn’t mention the two other projects! I was therefore very disappointed and felt that all the time we all spent thinking about a proposal that could suit their situation wasn’t really necessary.
At least, this project helped me to understand that even if many people in Hokkaido present themselves as environmental protective groups in the façade, it seems in fact that most of them focus on cranes and forget about other problems that deserve attention. When we were asked about our image of Hokkaido, I wanted to share my view that even though I believe cranes deserve to be protected, they shouldn’t be the only center of interest of the associations just on the pretext that they are aesthetic to see…. In our project for instance, we wanted to emphasize the need to connect consumers and producers of Hokkaido, and to make people understand the importance of fishery, forestry or farmer products. As I see it, using the cranes as the main symbol does not bring much else than some tourists in winter to take photos, whereas I believe that emphasizing on restoration projects that concern more directly all these important fields in Hokkaido’s economy would benefit to both the planet and the people of Hokkaido.
On the other hand, the fact that the interest of the stakeholders mainly focused on cranes showed me that in fact I might have a role to play in places like Hokkaido. Before coming in person I thought that being a foreigner and a young student studying in Tokyo wouldn’t enable me to do anything whatsoever for the people of Hokkaido. But now, I start to think that because I am an outsider and because I have another state of mind, I might be able in the future to bring my contribution.
In short, even though I was first disappointed by the result of this project, I now believe into the necessity to bring new ideas to the experience of the people of Hokkaido, and I am more motivated than ever to be a part of this contribution.
I enjoyed every second of the experience that was ready for us, but the best part was the heated debate we occasionally had among some of the students in the group. For most parts we never came to an agreement but it was such a fun either listening or to be participating in the discussion. We had people with such different perspectives, which allowed for enriching content, that was so interesting to be part of. I think the point of debate is not really to convince others to your opinion but to acknowledge other’s insight into your part for higher level of thinking within yourself. One’s belief is something that is one of the most difficult thing to change, so trying to convince others to your opinion not only defeats the purpose of discussion but also probably the most pointless thing to do. What one must do is to allow the other acknowledge your point of view whether they agree or disagree to gain understanding of each other. Clashes of opinion always occur and is completely healthy, except things can starts to go wrong and critically dangerous when either or both do not develop a fundamental respect for one another without accepting the opinion of others. Some discussion we had over the trip didn’t quite work out, but for most part I had something to learn each time. Great people!
We held our Wanda Grinda proposals today at the Kushiro Wildlife Conservation Center. The topics ranged from Tancho Cranes to Social Ecological Systems, and we finished with a great presentation on the attempt to raise awareness in local consumers by using QR codes that explain ecological agriculture.
The talks were attended by local stakeholders, Kikuchi san, MLIT staff, Suzuki san from the Tancho Crane Sanctuary, members of the Salmon Society and more. However, some important stakeholders like members of the Fishery Corporation could not attend. After the presentations, there was an interesting ground for discussion, we talked about the future of the Tancho cranes, discussing their possibility of migrating and its presumed implications on Japan. The main problem, as so often, seems to remain the lack of awareness, making people unsure of how to behave in respect to the cranes.
This final discussion brought interesting ideas to the table, and it could have been an opportunity for more contradictory interest groups (Salmon Society and Fishery Corp.) to express their points of view, while us students could serve as mediators thanks to the insights we obtained during our field trips.
I found Harada san’s statement about trial and error in relation to restoration efforts in Japan very interesting, and it could have been opened to discussion. He said that the idea of trying out something without being sure of its direct benefit is almost never considered in conservation efforts in Japan, naming the example of actively restoring migration patterns of Tancho cranes.
From what I have learned at university in experimental physics, trial and error is a strong research motor, and can bring by major results. Of course we are not talking about the same scale, I nevertheless think that especially in fields like ecological conservation, there should at least be ground for discussion when it comes to unsure or unorthodox ideas. The main problem is the economic loss when an experiment fails, or even only fails to show its benefits within a short timespan. However, staying in this state of mind, there might be a lack of advancements in the field of ecology.