Satoyama 里山: and The Hima (حمى)
By Miho Shirai
Socio-economic Development Project Manager, Coordinator, Technical Translator (EN-JP)
Embassy of Japan in Lebanon
In Japan, forests account for 70% of the country’s area. Japanese people have long co-existed with nature in Satoyama (里山: communities adjacent to forests). The villagers in Satoyama take care of both forests and their farmlands to protect ecosystems, yet the coexistence between nature and humans entails efforts. In fact, around 40% of Japan’s forest area is planted forest.
While in Lebanon, forests constitute 13% of the country’s area as opposed to 70% a hundred years ago. Currently, a community-based conservation approach to restore sustainable lifestyles is moving ahead. Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNL), one of the pioneers in the field of environmental protection in the Middle East, is reviving Hima (حمى) that has been existed in the Middle East before Islam.
The Hima (حمى) advances ecological sustainability by protecting trees and lands from indiscriminate harvest and moreover, fosters harmony between different communities hinged on Lebanon’s social and religious diversity which often turns into sectarian violence, as the country’s history of the civil war (1975–90) indicates.
Conserving Hima as a common heritage is a path to the future where nature and humans are mutually connected and integrated.