City of Nagoya, Japan


The City of Nagoya lies on the Nobi Plain in the center of Japan, facing Ise Bay to the south. It covers an area of 326.45 sqkm, and its population numbers approximately 2.2 million. The city has a warm and humid climate, with an average annual temperature of around 16 degrees Celsius, and average annual rainfall of around 1,500mm (averages taken from the years 1976 – 2005). The area is composed of diverse landscapes, from the hilly area to the east and the central plateau, to the alluvial plains and reclaimed lands in the north, west and south. For a major city, the area boasts a high ratio of flora and fauna, including:
  • 25 types of mammal,
  • 231 kinds of birds,
  • 58 varieties of fish,
  • roughly 2,450 types of insects,
  • and as many as 1,500 vascular plants. For example, of the approximately 7,000 types of native vascular plants across Japan as a whole (378,000km2), and the approximately 2,200 types that exist in Aichi Prefecture (5,161km2), 14% of the former and 45% of the latter can be found in Nagoya (around 1,000 types in all).

Although the hills have been developed to build residential, cultural and educational zones since the 1950s (particularly since 1975), these developments are interspersed with woodland and marshland created by subsoil water, which are home to a rich variety of Japan’s valuable flora and fauna, including threatened species. These include the Shidekobushi (Magnolia tomentos) and the Shiratamahoshikusa (Eriocaulon nudicuspe), found only in the Tokai area, and a native population of the Tokyo Salamander (Hynobius tokyoensis). The 410ha Higashiyama Forest, lying in the center of the eastern hills, is another green oasis, housing the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Surrounded by urban development, this valuable natural resource is one of few on such a scale in the world. To preserve remaining precious natural havens and restore the satoyama* to the previous state, local citizens, corporations and government collaborate in actively tackling the protection and regeneration of woodland and marsh areas. The project is named “Building the Nagoya Higashiyama Forest”. At the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, approximately 550 animal species and 7,000 plant varieties are displayed and conserved.

The plateau on which the center of Nagoya City lies was originally developed as a castle town alongside the construction of Nagoya Castle in 1610. Now, the area is almost completely urbanized, and the few remaining woodland areas are only to be found at Nagoya Castle, Atsuta Shrine and a few other such sites. Some of the city’s threatened plant species, such as the Kikumugura (Galium kikumugura), Uchiwagoke (Crepidomanes minutum) and spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), spontaneously occur at Nagoya Castle, creating a valuable natural habitat at the core of the city. In particular, this is the only natural habitat for the spleenwort in the Owari region (the western area of Aichi Prefecture).

The plains reaching out along the Shonai River in the northern, western and southern regions have long been cultivated, mainly as rice-fields, and estuary land has been actively reclaimed since the Edo Era (i.e. from the 1600s). As with the hilly area, these areas have been intensively developed as industrial and residential zones to meet the demands of high growth and rapid population increases. However, some cultivated land remains, forming the center of an agricultural-oriented eco-system. Additionally, a 323ha tidal marsh (the Fujimae Tidal Flats) exists in the estuary, providing a key stopover point for migratory birds. This wetlands site is included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

During the spring and autumn months, many migratory birds, including curlews and plovers can be seen at these tidal flats, with more than 20,000 water birds of around 60 species visiting and using the wetlands throughout the year. Furthermore, the sand and mud of the tidal flats contain many nutrients brought by the river, creating a habitat for vast numbers of crabs, shellfish and sand worms etc.

  • Satoyama areas are located between urban and remote mountain areas, and their favorable environment, developed and maintained by local people’s harmonious lifestyle with nature, fosters a variety of life forms. These areas are mainly comprised of secondary forests around villages, together with rice fields, other agricultural plots, reservoirs, grasslands etc.

back to top


Factors resulting in the loss of biodiversity include:
  • alteration of natural habitats,
  • incursion of foreign species,
  • atmospheric and water pollution, and
  • climate change.

In the case of threatened species in Nagoya:
  • 14 mammals,
  • 22 bird species,
  • 56 types of insect including some already extinct, and
  • 224 vascular plants including some already extinct, the main cause for endangerment is change to their natural habitat

Examples of changing habitats are the development of industrial zones along the coast and on drained land, and the destruction of woodland areas to construct residential buildings to cope with an increasing population. In addition, the city’s social and economic structure has moved from an agricultural to an industrial and then service industry basis, resulting in a reduction of the population engaged in agricultural activities. As a result, agricultural land and ponds used for agricultural purposes have dramatically reduced, and although these were not completely naturally occurring landscapes, they fulfilled a certain role in terms of the ecosystem. In 1965, there were 8,873ha of agricultural land within the city, of which only 19% remained (1,710ha) in 2005. Of the 360 ponds in the city, only 32% (116) were remaining by March 2003.

Over a mere 15-year period from 1990 to 2005, such developments were responsible for a 1,643ha decrease in green sites (woodland, grass areas, agricultural land, or land under water), mainly through the loss of agricultural and woodland areas. This represents a reduction in the ratio of green sites from 30% to 25%.

What woodland there is left is also deteriorating, as people no longer care for the local satoyama coppices that once provided them with firewood, and that were home to a diversity of wildlife. Left untended, the satoyama landscape becomes scrubby and vulnerable to the incursion of bamboo.

A further problem is the threat posed by the immigration of foreign species. Deadly poisonous redback spiders from Australia were discovered in Japan in 2005, while more and more ponds are showing incursions of foreign freshwater fish, such as largemouth bass, bluegills and mosquitofish. Of 20 ponds recently investigated, 17 had foreign species, compared to 11 in 1981. Largemouth bass and bluegills, which originate in North America, eat fish and insects native to the Japanese environment, threatening those species with extinction. The mosquitofish, also from North America, is in direct competition with the threatened Japanese rice fish, and a decrease in habitats is exacerbating the situation, threatening the Japanese native species with extinction.

Atmospheric and water pollution increased considerably with the industrialization and urbanization that continued unabated from the 1950s to the 1970s. Densities of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in rivers etc. were rapidly improved by a series of regulations enforced between 1968 and 1970 regulating gas and effluent emissions by factories and businesses, along with improvements to sewerage systems etc. Thanks to these moves, pollution has remained at roughly the same levels since 1975. Concentrations of nitrogen dioxide and photochemical oxidants in the atmosphere have shown improvement since reaching peak levels in 1975, but have leveled off in the last 10 years.

In addition to the above factors, the impact of climate change is another concern. The temperature of Nagoya City is increasing as a result of urban “heat island” phenomena and global warming. The average annual temperature for Nagoya has risen by approximately 2.7 degrees over the last 100 years, roughly 3.5 times the increase of 0.74 degrees seen on average around the world. Levels of CO2 within the city have also risen continuously – when measurements were started in 1993, CO2 concentrations were at an annual average of 381ppm, while measurements in 2005 gave an annual average of 406ppm. Also, between 1961 and 1990, the average flowering date for Nagoya’s cherry blossom was March 30, but between 1991 and 2000, the cherry blossom started flowering approximately 6 days earlier, on average. Furthermore, between 1961 and 1990, the Japanese maple began to show its autumn colors from November 21 on the average in Nagoya, but between 1991 and 2000, there was an average delay of approximately 7 days before the changing colors were observed. The Indian Fritillary and Great Mormon butterflies, previously native to southern Japan, have been seen in Nagoya since the 1990s, and their habitat has moved even further north into the Kanto region, also thought to be a result of climate change.

back to top


In order to become an “Eco-Capital” of Japan in cooperation with local citizens, corporations and government, the City of Nagoya has drafted the *Second Basic Environment Plan for Nagoya*. To achieve the 2010 targets for biodiversity, the Basic Environment Plan specifies the following 3 action steps:
1. Action for sustainable lifestyles, such as reduction of garbage and CO2, and implementation of the Nagoya Water Cycle Recovery Plan etc.
2. Action to co-exist with nature, such as the preservation and wise use of wetlands, the regeneration of Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and the creation of managed satoyama woodlands etc.
3. Action to develop human resources and build networks between people through environmental education and the Nagoya Eco-Campus etc.

1. Creating Sustainable Lifestyles

The City of Nagoya designated part of the Fujimae Tidal Flat as a candidate site for a new landfill. However, there were strong calls to preserve the tidal flat because it has a water-purifying function and also serves as one of the largest stopovers in Japan for migratory birds. Therefore in January 1999, the city abandoned the plan to reclaim the Fujimae Tidal Flats and in February of the same year, the “Emergency Announcement for Garbage Reduction” was declared. Given the situation, the city called for a substantial reduction in the amount of garbage in cooperation with the citizens, corporations and government, and set a target to reduce garbage by 200,000 tons (20% of the total volume) by the end of the 20th century. To achieve this target, the whole city worked to reduce garbage, by expanding the separate collection of empty bottles and cans to cover the whole city, and starting the recycling of containers and packaging (paper and plastic containers and packaging) in advance of the rest of the country. The separate collection and recycling of kitchen garbage was started in some parts of the city from March 2003.

In recent years, global-scale environmental issues, such as global warming, have been the focus of much discussion, with attention directed to their major impact on biodiversity. In advance of the 1997 International Conference on Climate Change in Nagoya, the city came up with its own targets to reduce overall levels of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions to levels 10% below those of 1990, by the year 2010. Within Nagoya City, the increase in CO2 emissions is caused by households, offices and stores, and vehicles, and, to achieve the above 2010 target, the city is developing a “One more time” campaign for Nagoya’s 2.2 million citizens. This strategy aims for each citizen to do what they can to gradually reduce CO2 emissions, by recruiting Eco-Life Messengers who make an Eco-Life Declaration to take on the 20 listed challenges to live a more eco-friendly life. Further efforts by Nagoya include the establishment of the EXPO Eco-Money system whereby citizens are rewarded with “eco-points” (that can be exchanged for eco-products or donated to tree-planting projects) if they participate in environmentally friendly activities, and displays of CO2 concentration levels to make the issue more visible to all. For offices and stores, Nagoya has established a unique certification system for the accreditation of Eco-Businesses, and for offices and stores which emit a lot of green house gases, Nagoya has requested to submit Global Warming Countermeasures Plan based on the municipal ordinance, so that offices and stores are voluntarily and actively tackling environmental issues. Campaigns are also in place to encourage drivers to switch off their engines at stoplights, and to promote environmentally friendly driving.

Furthermore, the Nagoya Water Cycle Recovery Plan has been set up to re-establish the cycle of healthy water, which has been lost due to continued urban development. The plan is for government officials, citizens, NPOs, and corporate bodies to work in cooperation with each other to build facilities allowing the infiltration of rainwater back to the earth, to ensure the effective use of underground water and recycled sewage water, and to preserve green sites and reservoirs etc.

2. Achieving Co-Existence with Nature

The City of Nagoya aims to increase the area of urban parkland from 9.2sqm per capita (April 2005) to 10sqm by the year 2010, in order to create a pleasant city landscape that incorporates nature. The main thrust of this project will be urban planning that involves greening, so that citizens can experience nature close at hand, with efforts being concentrated on the establishment and preservation of green spaces, such as city and agricultural parks. Further, the project to regenerate Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens as well as to build the Nagoya Higashiyama Forest is under way in Higashiyama Forest. The regeneration inspires environmentally friendly activities through hands-on displays and exhibits and contributes to species preservation through active conservation and breeding programs for rare species. The aim is to provide a bridge between people and nature for a deeper understanding. Additionally, in the south-west of the city, where little existing woodland remains, the Todagawa Green is being developed, a unique public-private project being carried out in partnership between citizens, corporations and government for the planting and cultivating of trees to create a forest for future generations. The project is named the Building the Western Woods of Nagoya.

In 1971, in response to atmospheric and water pollution, the Japanese government established environmental standards. In Nagoya in 1974, environmental target figures were established as targets necessary to protect the health of citizens and to preserve a comfortable living environment, and these were revised in 2005.

Of these targets, as of 2006, the achievement ratio for targets concerning atmospheric pollution (nitrogen dioxide concentrations) and for water pollution (BOD) had only reached 17.9% and 73.3%, respectively. Nagoya has declared its intention to attain achievement ratios of 50% or more for atmospheric pollution and of 100% for water pollution targets by 2010. To achieve this, monitors recruited from the general public are conducting surveys and research, with the aim of increasing levels of concern by citizens for their immediate environment, and attaining the purification of the atmosphere and water supplies.

In addition to these measures, action is also being taken to preserve the Fujimae Tidal Flats (designated wetland under the Ramsar Convention), to implement educational programs for environmental awareness, and to promote the greening at sites for buildings and at rooftops and outer walls of buildings.

3. Developing Human Resources

As a basis for implementing the measures described above, Nagoya is developing human resources and promoting the establishment of networks between people. An example of promoting environmental education is the Nagoya Eco-Campus, opened in March 2005 – a project that has been created together by citizens, companies, universities and government, offering courses to anyone, from adults to children, and with the entire city as its campus. Taking the year 2010 as the deadline, targets have been established to increase the number of households participating in the Eco-Life Challenge from approximately 50% in 2003 to around 80%, to increase the percentage of citizens participating in lectures and seminars relating to environmental issues from 14.4% in 2003 to 20%, and to raise the number of Eco-Businesses to 2,000 from the 579 businesses accredited as of 2005.

Jointly with Aichi Prefecture and the regional economic organizations (the Nagoya Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Chubu Economic Federation), Nagoya City is bidding to host the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). To that aim, they established the Aichi-Nagoya COP10 CBD Promotion Committee on June 13. The city hopes that hosting COP10 will provide the impetus for individual citizens to change to a lifestyle based on consideration for biodiversity, and to thus contribute as a city to the preservation of biodiversity on earth.

back to top


1. Creating Sustainable Lifestyles

In the City of Nagoya, the separate collection of empty bottles and cans has been expanded to cover the whole city, and a start has been made for the separate collection of paper and plastic containers and packaging, beginning with the sorting of PET plastic bottles and paper drinks packs. Some areas of the city also offer separate garbage collection for kitchen waste. Through these efforts, waste that was previously disposed of has been collected as recyclable resources. In 1998, the volume of garbage was 1.02 million tons, but thanks to the efforts of citizens, that figure had been reduced by more than 23% to around 790,000 tons by the year 2000 and reduced by 30% to 720,000 tons by 2005, exceeding initial targets. In addition, the volume of recyclable waste (recyclables) collected was around 150,000 tons in 1998 but this figure had risen to 390,000 tons by 2005, a 260% increase. 30,000 tons of plastic containers and packaging, 18,000 tons of paper containers and packaging, and 22,000 tons of empty bottles (about twice the amount in 1998) are now collected annually. With these changes, annual garbage landfill volumes have been reduced from 280,000 tons in 1998 to 110,000 tons, currently.

These efforts have both prolonged the usage of existing landfill sites, and enabled the preservation of the Fujimae Tidal Flats. In 2002, the Fujimae Tidal Flats were listed on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, as a vital stopover point for migratory birds, and on May 22, 2007, a wetland affiliation was signed between Nagoya and Geelong, Australia (it has the Swan Bay Tidal Flats).

However, during this period, the combined overall volume of garbage and recyclables has only reduced slightly, from 1.12 million to 1.11 million tons. The target for 2010 is to reduce the combined overall volume of waste and recyclables to 1.08 million tons or less, and to reduce landfill waste to 20,000 tons annually. To achieve this, the city will aggressively promote the 3 Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) among its citizens.

2. Achieving Co-Existence with Nature

In the Higashiyama Forest, citizens’ groups are working together on various projects, such as maintaining woodlands, holding nature watch tours and so on. One such project is the regeneration of the Tenpaku Valley Marsh, an area in the southern part of the forest that was buried by a landslide during torrential rainfall in September 2000. The land is gradually being restored to its original wetland state through the efforts of local citizens, and Cordulegasteridae dragonflies and Nepa hoffmanni water scorpions can once more be observed at the site.

Rivers and ponds are showing a greater variety of life thanks to improvements in water quality, and in the late 1970s, many fish and other species returned to the waters. For example, since around 1980, ayu sweetfish can once more be seen in the Shonai and other rivers. To further preserve and regenerate natural landscapes containing rivers, projects to restore the abundance of nature to rivers have been promoted, along with action to improve the water quality of small rivers within the city by training the water course and removing sludge etc. For example, sludge was removed from the bottom of the man-made canal that was excavated during the construction of Nagoya Castle to purify the water, leading to the return of fish and birds that had deserted site. In 2001, work was started to conduct water from the Shonai River, and from April 2007, an experiment was started to clean up water quality by drawing a flow of clean water from the Kiso River, which flows through the north-west of Aichi Prefecture.

In addition to physicochemical water quality targets such as pH and BOD established in July 2005, more “user-friendly” indices were also established that could be understood by citizens in a more sensory manner, namely the “visibility” and “smell” of the water. Making use of these indices, monitors recruited from the general public (194 people in 35 groups as of April 2007) started regular inspections of 30 river locations and 13 ponds in the city from the autumn of 2005. The 7th round of inspections was conducted from April 1 through to May 31, 2007, with 40% of rivers meeting the targets for all the user-friendly indices, and 23.1% of the ponds.

3. Developing Human Resources

As of August 2007, there were 402,000 Eco-Life Messengers and the circle of Eco-Life activities is expanding. A survey conducted among 2,000 residents of the City between July and August 2006 showed that a total 84.5% of people always switched off the lights and television when they were not being used, or sometimes did so. 78.7% of those surveyed had raised their air conditioning and lowered their heating thermostats, showing a high ratio of people trying to make their lifestyles more ecologically friendly. The population showed a particularly high awareness of garbage issues, achieving significant reductions in the volume of landfill, with 77.4% of respondents according priority to refillable products when making purchases, and 95.0% sorting their garbage for separate collection. A survey conducted at the same time targeting 2,000 Eco-Life Messengers showed that the messengers had a higher level of awareness about issues such as global warming and were more likely to implement measures for an environment-friendly lifestyle. Overall, they showed a lower resistance to perceived obstacles in tackling an eco-friendly lifestyle, being less likely to regard lifestyle changes as “taking too much trouble.”

In 2005, the Nagoya Eco-Campus held 82 educational courses (with a total of 476 course sessions), and 2 symposiums, attended by around 10,000 people in all. In 2006, the Campus offered 110 courses (totaling 574 course sessions), attended by around 11,000 citizens. Efforts to educate children in the importance of the environment started in 2003, with the holding of Nagoya Eco-Schools (for elementary, junior high, senior high and special-needs school) and Nagoya Eco-Kids courses (for pre-school). Currently, the 388 schools and 467 kindergartens and nursery schools in the city are engaged in developing environmental activities that go beyond classroom-based environment studies. Especially in Nagoya Eco-Kids courses, for the purpose of providing children with an emotional richness, affinity to little lives is highly valued. As of June 2007, the number of Eco-Businesses had also expanded to 850 businesses.

In addition to the above, as an opportunity for citizens, corporations, and government to think about the environment together and to create an even better environment, the City has held its “Environment Conservation Day Nagoya” each year since 2003, with events held throughout the city. In 2005, a total 917 regional festivities included events in each ward of the city, clean-up campaigns and nature-based experiences, with approximately 250,000 participants. 4 central events were held at the Sasashima Satellite Area of the EXPO 2005, Aichi, attended by around 90,000 people. The “ward festivals” held in the 16 wards of the city also included events with an environmental theme.

May 22 is the International Day for Biological Diversity. To broaden citizens’ understanding of the importance of biodiversity, the City of Nagoya held a lecture and commemorative events on May 21 and 22, 2007. 200 citizens attended the lecture, with 5,300 participants at the commemorative events. On May 22, a lecture was also held under the auspices of Aichi Prefecture, attended by some 250 citizens.

back to top



  • Secondary Basic Environment Plan for Nagoya,
  • Nagoya Waste Report '05-'06,
  • Annual Report (White Paper) on the Environment in Nagoya 2006 (Japanese only),
  • Red Data Book of Nagoya 2004: Animals, Plants (Japanese only),
  • "Nagoya Eco Campus",
  • Nagoya Statistical Yearbook (Japanese only),
  • Nagoya My town,
  • Climatic Statistic (Japan Meteorological Agency),
  • LABPresentation_Nagoya071016
  • City of Nagoya's official web site

  • Yukihisa Nishimura: Director, Ecological City Promotion Department, Environmental Affairs Bureau, City of Nagoya
  • Toshiyuki Takeichi: Senior Coordinator, Ecological City Promotion Department, Environmental Affairs Bureau, City of Nagoya
  • Seiichi Kawada: Senior Coordinator, Ecological City Promotion Department, Environmental Affairs Bureau, City of Nagoya
  • Toshio Matsui: Director, Environmental Impact Assessment Office, Environmental Affairs Bureau, City of Nagoya

  • Ecological City Promotion Department, Environmental Affairs Bureau, City of Nagoya
    Tel: +81-52-972-2669, e-mail:
  • Environmental Impact Assessment Office, Environmental Affairs Bureau, City of Nagoya
    Tel: +81-52-972-2696, e-mail:


  • Managing urban biodiversity

Programmes of Work

  • Forest Biodiversity
  • Inland Waters Biodiversity
  • Marine and Coastal Biodiversity

Cross-cutting issues

  • Climate Change and Biological Diversity
  • Public Education and Awareness
  • Sustainable Use of Biodiversity


  • Waste reduction
  • Measures to address global warming
  • Preservation & wise use of wetlands
  • Satoyama (Forestation)
  • Regeneration of Higashiyama Zoo
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Environmental education
  • Nagoya Eco-Campus

back to top

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme