Japanese Mountains: A very short but elevating introduction

Professor Martin Price, the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development  at the University of the Highlands and Islands, visited Japan for 16 days on a Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The visit showcased the important work of the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development and also offered an opportunity to show the significance of the UK’s UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserves.

Martin was given the opportunity to share knowledge and present information about our UK UNESCO MAB Biosphere Reserves to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Tokyo and to scientists and practitioners in Shiramine. Usually lecturing at the Centre for Mountain Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland, Martin gave lectures at Shizouka University, Japan to Masters Students of Mountain Science from across the country. Of this he said:

“I am very grateful to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for supporting my visit, and hope it may lead to future links between Japanese and British BRs.”

While in Japan, Martin visited two Biosphere Reserves that are part of the Network of  UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) Reserves; Mount Hakusan (pictured above) and Minami Alps. Martin said:

“Although Japan and the UK have very different cultures, there are strong parallels in the evolution of our national networks of Biosphere Reserves (BRs). In both countries, smaller BRs designated early in the history of the MAB programme, with a strong nature conservation focus, have been expanded to much larger areas, with significant stakeholder involvement and a new focus on sustainable development. Equally, in different parts of each country, stakeholders in regions with a strong identity have recognised the benefits of designation as a BR, and have worked actively to achieve this goal. And new BRs are under development in both countries.”

The trip was linked to the publication of the Japanese translation of his book Mountains: A very short introduction (Oxford University Press, 2015) by Maruzen Publishing.

Mountains: A very short introduction by Professor Martin Price (Centre) was translated by Professors Kenichi Ueno of Tsukuba University (right) and Teiji Watanabe of Hokkaido University (left). Photo courtesy of Professor Martin Price.

Martin is the current Vice-Chair of the UK National Committee of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme, having previously served as Chair. In this capacity he helps to oversee and support the UK’s 6 UNESCO MAB Reserves. In addition, Martin represents the UK on the International Co-ordinating Council of the Programme on Man and the Biosphere and took a leading role on the Lima Action Plan.