Geoscience Reference
In-Depth Information
In the propagation of new ideas and techniques of eco-friendly planning,
compromises are struck and certain animals are selected as signs of nature resurgent
and as symbols of an otherwise undifferentiated ecosystem. This is the case among
scientists, planners and others with a professional involvement, for whom certain
animal presences and activities are regarded as significant of greater and more
complex changes in natural life. It is also the case that, for the purpose of diffusion
to a wider public, recourse is made to symbol as a device to explain, to reduce, and
to make manageable the otherwise overwhelming variety of animal life in an
ecosystem. The human purview of nature and of animals within nature is inevitably
cultural in its essence and in its confines, in the symbols it chooses and the
compromises it makes.
I have argued here that the creation of biotopes and animal habitats can be
interpreted as an expression of a sophisticated aestheticisation linked to notions of a
purer, agricultural past. In Yokohama, for example, the language of ecosystem
concern is often a retrospective one that seeks to re-create memories of a less
urbanised past, of a time when childhood was more carefree and nature more
accessible, when paddling in ponds and streams in pursuit of insect life was one of
the pleasures of summer. In some contexts, then, the call is to the past and to a
rural, agricultural setting, cast within both a vaguely eco-oriented revisionism
designed to promote tourism and the simpler, more spiritual values of an ill-defined
'other' place. Dragonflies, fireflies, even salmon are a link to a past and to ways of
life, that of the rice farmer in particular, which are now under threat. The habitats
that are being re-created for them are the basis of a new ecologically informed
Ecologically informed aesthetic or aesthetically expressed ecology—the idiom is
as yet unclear. Nor is the overall strength of the movement to place non-human
animals at the top of the list of priorities in re-landscaping waterways. In the end, it
seems likely that, without an enormous effort of the imagination, the inevitable
compromises will lead to co-optation, and the entrenched arguments and interests of
the bureaucratic and construction nexus will appropriate some of the ideas and
practices of eco-friendly planning and keep them well restricted and contained to
pocket or peripheral locations.
The research on which this chapter is based was assisted by grants from both the Japan
Foundation Endowment Committee and the School of Geography at the University
of Leeds, grants that led to two visits to Japan, one in the summer of 1995 and the
second in the autumn of 1996. Through the help of Professor Sugiura Yoshio, I was
given space and facilities at the Tokyo Metropolitan University. I am indebted to
him, as well as to a number of other people for their assistance in tutoring me in
some of the background complexities, in sharing their ideas, and in making
information available to me: Wanami Kazuo, Tokyo Metropolitan Government;
Sasaki Nobukichi, Hino City Government; Mori Seiwa, Yokohama City
Search WWH ::

Custom Search