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Synecoculture for biodiversity and our Future

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

Kumano Shindo members Adam Lobel and Kouji Miki had the pleasure of attending a Synecoculture (kyōsei nōhō) course offered by Takashi Otsuka of the Sakura Shizenjuku Global Nature Network. Synecoculture is a method of farming that produces useful plants while making multifaceted use of the self-organizing ability of a local ecosystem. It is characterized by a comprehensive ecosystem utilization method that considers not only food production, but also the impacts on the environment and health

The following is excerpted and lightly edited from What?

Synecoculture is a method of open-field agriculture that—without the use of any plowing, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, or anything else except for seeds and saplings—allows for the creation and management of ecosystems that bring out essential qualities of the plants growing in natural state, and produces useful crops in an ecologically optimized environment. Why? At this very moment, we are facing the 6th mass extinction, the first extinction caused by humans, which is progressing at a speed not seen in recorded history. A major factor is the destruction of ecosystems by inappropriate practices of agriculture. Moreover, the large consumption of natural resources (including petrochemicals) by agriculture is leading to a failure within the material cycles of nature, which is causing climate change and threatening our ocean ecosystems. The fertilizers and chemicals used to increase agricultural productivity come with risks to our food’s safety and healthiness. As the human population continues to increase, it is undeniably vital that we switch over to food production methods that restore health, both for us and of our planet. In particular, small- to medium-sized farms should consider switching over to different production methods, ones that do not destroy biodiversity, because these farms occupy 90% of the agricultural holdings, and produce up to 80% of basic commodities. Who? Where? \The original concept of Synecoculture was created by Takashi Otsuka of the Sakura Shizenjuku Global Nature Network, and Masatoshi Funabashi of the Sony Computer Science Laboratory (Sony CSL) has scientifically formalized and verified it. We are now working on implementation and improvement. In Japan, there is a community on social media of people practicing Synecoculture, primarily in their own vegetable gardens. Sakura Shizenjuku is based in the city of Ise in Mie Prefecture, and Takashi Otsuka is holding regular Synecoculture courses there. The Synecoculture Association was established by Masatoshi Funabashi in order to spread the word about the scientific results of Synecoculture throughout society, and increase its adoption. Takashi Otsuka is serving as an advisor to the association. Internationally, the African Center for Research and Training in Synecoculture (Centre African de Recherche et de Formation en Synécoculture, CARFS) has been established in Burkina Faso in Sub-Saharan Africa. We have also established a virtual laboratory on the Complex Systems Digital Campus of the UNESCO UniTwin program. If you make just a small piece of land in your own natural environment available, you can do Synecoculture. When?

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