Nagoya University Global COE Program: From Earth System Science to Basic and Clinical Environmental Studies


Clinical Environmental Studies

Ise Bay Bioregion

The Ise-wan Basin is where Nagoya University is located. It comprises a world-leading center of commerce and industry, with a highly concentrated population, extremely productive areas of agricultural land, and rich forest and woodland resources which provide plentiful water resources. These elements combine to create the semi-closed coastal waters of Ise Bay, and it is also climatically homogenous.

However, the Ise-wan Basin is also home to some serious environmental problems, including the following:

  1. Urban areas: the Ise-wan Basin is suffering from a number of problems specific to urban environments. As industry has developed, the urban population has also risen rapidly. This has caused the so-called Heat Island Phenomenon to occur, as a result of indiscriminate urban sprawl, which is also the main factor behind increasing levels of urban flooding. Unregulated development has led to confused and unsystematic land use, and central urban areas are beginning to fall into decline.
  2. Hilly, rural areas: the principle problem here is the excessively declining population. Significant issues include the deterioration of forest and agricultural land-based ecosystems as a result of an increasing number of agricultural and/or rural villages finding themselves with more than 50% of their population aged 65 years or older, and the abandonment of proper management of, or the inability to properly manage, mountain forests.
  3. Ise Bay area: the semi-closed ecosystem of the bay has been firmly encroached upon. Urban development and improvements in agricultural productivity have led to an influx of nutrient salts into bay waters. This, together with such factors as dwindling mudflats, depressions in the ocean floor, decreased river water levels due to artificial water withdrawal, and quicksand, has in turn caused coastal erosion, which can lead to anoxic conditions in the water, and red or blue tide (caused by plankton). The result is that the sustainability of native biodiversity and ecological systems is seriously threatened.

What this means is that the Ise-wan Basin is a unique area, representing a microcosm of the various environmental problems that threaten the land, the rivers and the ocean.

Nagoya University has already built up an impressive portfolio of research findings on the climate, forest, urban areas and agricultural villages, oceans and rivers of the basin zone, from varying perspectives in Environmental Studies, Bioagricultural Sciences, Science, Engineering and Social Sciences. However, this research falls into the same pattern of approaching its given subject from too narrow a viewpoint, looking at either the diagnostic or the treatment aspect only, according to the traditional practices of each discipline. This means that the University has not yet been able to gain a comprehensive overview of all the phenomena influenced by the bay area, nor has it been able to generate integrated measures to tackle them.

In the Ise-wan Basin, our GCOE will work to put in place a systematic approach that moves towards the establishment of Clinical Environmental Studies, as a discipline in which all these disparate groups can join together to carry out the full cycle of diagnosis, treatment and impact evaluation.

Graduate students and faculty members will place particular emphasis on working on the following problems in collaboration with government bodies and NPOs:

  1. Bringing together Meteorology, Environmental Engineering and Environmental Policy Studies to:
    • mitigate the Heat Island Phenomenon
    • reduce levels of CO2
    • develop new land use and landscaping designs which are in greater harmony with the natural environment.
  2. Bringing together Ecology, Economics, Urban Planning Studies and Forestry to:
    • construct a new relationship between urban and rural/agricultural habitats
    • construct a theoretical basis for environmental planning and policy that harmonizes the natural and the man-made
    • make greater use of natural sources of energy and woody biomass
    • develop organic agriculture
    • construct a theoretical basis for the sustainability of collaborating ecosystems from satoyama mountain border zones and satoumi coastal marine environments.

The Ise Bay Bioregion is where our GCOE intends to carry out fundamental research whose findings will prove to be classic case studies in the Training Program in Clinical Environmental Studies.

The city of Yokkaichi on Ise Bay, Japan.
Known for its air pollution problem in the 1960s,
the region is now facing another set of sustainability issues.
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