Satoyama In The Sea

Courtesy of WOWSA, Pacific Ocean.

After spending many years in Japan and being a lifelong ocean swimmer, I realize the similarities between the Japanese concept of satoyama and the conservationist mindset of ocean swimmers,” said Steven Munatones.

Satoyama (里 or village and 山 or mountain) refers to settlements in upland valleys and cultivating lower slopes of mountains that demonstrates how human society and nature can be integrated so the landscape is enhanced rather than an example of mankind conquering the land.

The integration of households and cultivated land on the mountainsides and within forests and streams is an example of a harmonious ecosystem.

Flora and fauna are combined within the agricultural lifestyle – the biodiversity is sustainable, the local wildlife harmoniously co-exists with the human species. The bond between mankind and nature is reciprocal and sustainable with the satoyama lifestyle.

Similarly, ocean swimmers understand when they enter the marine environment, they are foreign visitors who must coexist harmoniously with the denizens of the deep.

Satoyama is how many cultures interacted with the environment around them. In many ways, urban lifestyles have moved far away from this old-fashioned harmony. Vehicles and highways, escalators and elevators, GMO farms and food preservatives are examples of how the concept of satoyama have moved further and further back in mankind’s history and a lower probability in the future. Satoyama is a historical connection with the Blue Planet and a old-school reminder how important it is to protect nature.

The flora on land is equivalent to the seaweed in the ocean biome while the fauna on land is equivalent to the marine biome in the ocean. Smog in the air is equivalent to the population in the water. Discarded trash in parks and city streets is like microplastic on the ocean’s floor and plastic bottles in the ocean gyre. Protecting what we do not always see in the ocean is just as important as protecting what we see on land.

All the things that ocean advocates like Lewis Pugh and Sarah Ferguson, Doug Woodring and Bruckner Chase have been advising us over the course of many years.

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