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Integrated Environmental Studies Course

2016-07-28 Report on On-site Research Training (ORT) at Ena City, Gifu

Marianne Faith G. Martinico-Perez
PhD Student
Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University

As part of On-site Research Training in Clinical Environmental Studies I&II course, a field survey was conducted in Ena City on 9-11 June 2016. The ORT was participated by eleven (11) graduate students from Graduate School of Environmental Studies (GSES), two (2) undergraduate students from School of Engineering, as well as professors and researchers from GSES. This activity aims to provide on-site information for the student to identify the sustainability issues at the locality and to conduct diagnosis and prescription development of the issues.

Ena City is located in Gifu Prefecture, which is an hour away by bus from Nagoya University. The group was welcomed by the beautiful natural landscape with lush green forest and relaxing ambience of Ena City. The local food and specialty dishes served during meals also delighted everyone. The students visited various sites that feature the natural environment, community activities, local industries, development and governance in Ena City.

The highlights of the discussions, field observations and workshops conducted in Ena City are the following:

1. The students were able to learn about the efforts made by Ena City in revitalizing tourism activities. The student experienced the Ena Gorge cruise, and observed the beautiful rock structures the gorge. The Japanese historical village in Iwamura was also visited.

2. The non-profit organizations (NPOs) have vital roles in the local communities. The NPOs provide support to social needs such as maintenance of forest (Yudachi-yama Forest Academy), branding or popularization of the local products (Enakoko), encourage migration through house renovation (Oku-Yahagi Forest Academy), and promote use of renewable energy through ki no eki project (Wood Station Project). The people working at the NPOs exude passion and dedication in their work.

3. The Akechi Railway Company continue on providing transportation services especially to rural communities in Ena City despite of the problem of declining commuters due to the decreasing population in Ena City. As counter measure, a train restaurant was opened to provide new tourist activity, new experience as well as added income of the company.

4. The group also visited the site for Linear Express station in Nakatsugawa City. The local government of Ena City already set a development plan anticipating the economic benefits from this big railway project.

This ORT reinforced teachings and learning obtained from the university by providing actual learning experiences. The students also gained broader knowledge about Ena City and the various environment and socio-economic issues, such as, among others, the chain effects of declining and aging population. For the doctor students, field survey provided venue to 'diagnose' environmental issues and develop their own research to be able to provide 'prescription' or practical recommendations that could be useful to policy makers in Ena City.