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Towards a culturally sustainable environmental impact assessment: the protection of Ainu cultural heritage in the Saru river cultural impact assessment, Japan

Nakamura, Naohiro (2013) Towards a culturally sustainable environmental impact assessment: the protection of Ainu cultural heritage in the Saru river cultural impact assessment, Japan. Geographical Research, 51 (1). pp. 26-36. ISSN 1745-5863

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    Abstract

    Culturally sustainable environmental impact assessment (EIA) requires consideration of the impact of development on local people’s cultural activities, including holding ceremonies, collecting resources, and learning skills, which are fundamental essences of Indigenous rights. While culturally sustainable EIA has become a common practice when a development project involves an Indigenous community, it is still argued that Indigenous cultural heritage is not adequately protected. This is due to the fact that Indigenous people do not always keep power in the post-approval stage of EIA, or the lack of practical measures to minimise the impact of development projects on Indigenous cultural heritage and to enhance the possibility of reaching a consensus among stakeholders. The Cultural Impact Assessment of the Saru River Region in Japan was the first investigation of a site to preserve an ethnic minority culture, with regards to a dam construction. In the second phase of the assessment project, research staff members, some of whom are of Ainu ethnicity, suggested alternative ceremony sites and conducted experimental transplants to protect the local cultural activities. The long-term investigation by research staff, in fact, influenced the direction of the dam construction. The developer agreed not to proceed with the construction until measures were taken to minimise the impact on cultural activities that would satisfy residents in the construction area. While still early to conclude that Indigenous participation in this assessment project has been successful, Indigenous participation has clearly enhanced the possibility of reaching a consensus. The project should be considered with other published EIA reports, in demonstrating a return from investing in EIA with Indigenous participation, with a practical means for realising Indigenous rights.

    Item Type: Journal Article
    Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
    G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
    H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
    Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment
    Depositing User: Naohiro Nakamura
    Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2014 15:25
    Last Modified: 22 Jun 2016 15:08
    URI: http://repository.usp.ac.fj/id/eprint/7234
    UNSPECIFIED

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