2017 Volume 5 Issue 1 Pages 29-40
The project of re-introducing the Japanese crested ibis (Nipponia nippon) on Sado Island, Niigata, is a major environmental challenge promoted in Japan for the conservation of biodiversity. Since the habitat of this bird spreads across diverse agricultural landscapes, the success of this project depends on the active participation of local residents, which is becoming difficult due to serious human depopulation on the island. The author, in collaboration with other researchers and governmental workers, coordinated 43 participatory workshops between 2007 and 2010, and created opportunities to consider the impact of the project. In this paper, three examples of workshops are examined in order to elucidate how population issues were discussed by participants and how these discussions affected the consensus building processes for co-inhabitance with the ibis. One of the important criteria in designing consensus processes was to first encourage people to share any interests and then consider possible connections between their interests and co-inhabitance with the ibis. Even the issue of depopulation became a source of creative inspiration for generating ideas and actions for public empowerment. Based on the examination of the processes and outcomes of the workshops, I argue that consensus is generated organically from the sharing of various local concerns, and that the informal approach to consensus building fosters the possibility of local actions.