Photo: "My Neighbor Totoro" Ecosystem Declining in Japan



Colorful flags wave over a rice farm near Kyoto, Japan, in a photo from 1970.

In parts of rural Japan, small community farms have blended with nature over the centuries to create satoyama, a carefully managed ecosystem at the border of arable land and the mountains.

But over the past few decades modernization and an aging population have forced more rural landowners to give their farms over to developers, sending satoyama into decline and threatening various rare plants and animals, experts said in 2008.

Photograph by Thomas J. Abercrombie/NGS


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