For the management of the relationship between wildlife and society, we are required to know diverse socio-cultural values regarding the natural environment. However, conventional survey methods have two major problems. First, they need detailed preliminary information of human-nature relationships, such as subsistence activity, folklore, history, and the ecosystem. Second, a detailed survey is difficult to conduct a spatially explicit analysis for a wide area, such as that involved at a municipal level.
In this study, we conducted an analysis of a citizen participation survey project at Lake Mikatagoko, in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, called “The Painting by Children of the Past Waterscape Program”. From this, we developed a new survey method for diverse socio-cultural values regarding the natural environment, and this solved several conventional problems.
The method for this case obtained basic spatially explicit information for diverse socio-cultural values regarding the natural environment on a municipal scale. In particular, it was important to analyze values that were strongly based on individuals, places and times. However, quantitatively analyzing, the utilization of the workshop and professionals' involvement were left as issues that needed to be addressed in order to develop better survey methods for diverse socio-cultural values.
Currently, several solar power plants have been constructed in wetland areas in Kushiro National Park without prior environmental impact assessment, as it was not required by the relevant laws in Japan. We surveyed abundance of individuals and egg sacs of the threatened Siberian salamander (Salamandrella keyserlingii) at a solar power plant site, prior to, during (2015-2016), and after (2017) its construction. We confirmed the presence of adults (n = 5 in 2015, n = 3 in 2016, and n = 1 in 2017), and metamorphs (n = 8, only in 2016) as well as egg sacs (n = 11 in 2015, n =37 in 2016, n = 36 in 2017) of this species during the survey period. For habitat conservation, we suggested the following measures to solar power producers: 1) installation of photovoltaic panels in the salamander's main habitat area should be avoided, and 2) the main habitats should be preserved as habitat “conservation area.” The solar power producers agree to implement our suggested conservation plan, and it was decided that we would monitor the salamander population– in this site for the next several years. We believe that this endeavor, supported jointly by producers and conservationists, sets a valuable precedent for the conservation of salamanders in areas with solar power plant construction.