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Sci Total Environ. 2017 May 15;586:174-187. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.01.197. Epub 2017 Feb 6.

Water resources management in the urban agglomeration of the Lake Biwa region, Japan: An ecosystem services-based sustainability assessment.

Author information

1
College of Environment and Resources, Fuzhou University, No. 2 Xueyuan Road, Fuzhou, Fujian 350116, China; Ritsumeikan-Global Innovation Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University, 1-1-1 Noji-higashi, Kusatsu, Shiga 525-8577, Japan.
2
College of Environment and Resources, Fuzhou University, No. 2 Xueyuan Road, Fuzhou, Fujian 350116, China.
3
Ritsumeikan-Global Innovation Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University, 1-1-1 Noji-higashi, Kusatsu, Shiga 525-8577, Japan.
4
College of Ecological Environment and Urban Construction, Fujian University of Technology, No. 3 Xueyuan Road, Fuzhou, Fujian 350118, China; Ritsumeikan Research Center for Sustainability Science, Ritsumeikan University, 2-150 Iwakura-cho, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-8570, Japan. Electronic address: niujia_2010@163.com.
5
College of Policy Science, Ritsumeikan University, 2-150 Iwakura-cho, Ibaraki, Osaka 567-8570, Japan; Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science, Todai Institutes for Advanced Study, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8654, Japan.
6
College of Asia Pacific Studies, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, 1-1 Jumonjibaru, Beppu, Oita 874-8577, Japan.
7
College of Science and Engineering, Ritsumeikan University, 1-1-1 Noji-higashi, Kusatsu, Shiga 525-8577, Japan.
8
School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, 500 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai 200241, China.
9
College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China.

Abstract

An innovative ecosystem services-based sustainability assessment was conducted in the important urban agglomeration of the Lake Biwa region, Japan, covering the time period from 1950 to 2014. A 22-indicator system was established that was based on the major ecosystem services of Lake Biwa and its water courses, i.e., provisioning services regarding aquatic products and water; regulating services regarding floods and water quality; cultural services regarding recreation and tourism, scientific research, and environmental education; and supporting services regarding biodiversity. First, changes in the eight ecosystem services were discussed together with the considerable experience and difficult lessons that can be drawn from the development trajectory. Next, with the indicators rearranged according to sustainability principles, the regional sustainability over the past six-plus decades was assessed. In general, this urban agglomeration has been progressing in terms of its sustainability, although economic and social development was achieved at the cost of environmental degradation in the past, and the current economic downturn is hurting the balanced development and integrated benefits. The results lead directly to recommendations for regional development, especially in terms of economic rejuvenation, from the perspective of improving management of Lake Biwa's water resources. Moreover, the relevant knowledge is educational and inspirational for other places in the world that are facing similar development issues. For example, the effective and even pioneering countermeasures that have been taken against environmental degradation, as well as the participation and collaboration of multiple stakeholders, could be useful as a model. Moreover, the study invites increased understanding of ecosystem vulnerability to anthropogenic devastation and emphasizes the priority of precautionary measures over countermeasures in the context of holistic urban planning and sustainable urban development.

KEYWORDS:

Ecosystem services; Indicator; Lake Biwa; Sustainability assessment; Urban agglomeration; Water resources management

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