Situated in the mountains of northern Honshu, this trackless site includes the last virgin remains of the cool-temperate forest of Siebold's beech trees that once covered the hills and mountain slopes of northern Japan. The black bear, the serow and 87 species of birds can be found in this forest.
Dans les montagnes du nord de Honshu, le site, dépourvu de routes et de sentiers, a conservé les derniers peuplements vierges de forêts tempérées froides de hêtres de Siebold qui couvraient jadis les pentes des montagnes au nord du Japon. Ses forêts abritent l'ours noir, le serow et 87 espèces d'oiseaux.
في الجبال التي تقع في شمال هونشو، حافظ هذا الموقع الخالي من الطرقات والدروب الضيّقة، على مجموعة النباتات الجديدة التي تتواجد في الغابات المُعتدلة الباردة من أشجار الزان التي يعود أصلها الى سيبولد والتي كانت تُغطّي قديمًا منحدرات الجبال في شمال اليابان. كما تأوي غاباتها الدب الاسود والسيرو و87 نوعًا من العصافير.
Горная труднодоступная местность на севере острова Хонсю включает последние уцелевшие участки девственных буковых лесов умеренно-холодного климата, которые некогда покрывали горные склоны и холмы северной Японии. В этих лесах обитают черный медведь, горный козел серау и 87 видов птиц.
Desprovisto de caminos y senderos, este sitio emplazado en las montañas del norte de Honshu conserva los últimos vestigios del bosque virgen de zona templada, poblado de hayas de Siebold, que cubría antaño las laderas montañosas del norte del Japón. El sitio alberga especies animales como el oso negro, la gamuza denominada serow y 87 clases de pájaros.
Dit gematigd-koele woud ligt in de bergen van Noord-Honshu. Het bevat de laatste restanten van de eerste Siebold beukenbomen die ooit de heuvels en berghellingen in het noorden van Japan bedekten. In het gebied zijn de zwarte beer, de serow en 87 soorten vogels te vinden. Er komen meer dan 500 plantensoorten voor in het Shirakami woud. Velen hiervan zijn kenmerkend voor Japan. Het beukenbos is totaal niet verstoord. Het gebied is een wildernis zonder toegangswegen voor de mens. Rondom het gebied ligt een bufferzone van 6.800 hectare waar ook niet gejaagd mag worden.
Outstanding Universal Value
Shirakami-Sanchi World Heritage Property is a wilderness area covering one third of Shirakami mountain range with the largest remaining virgin beech forest in East Asia. The property is located along the Sea of Japan in northern Honshu at an altitude ranging from 100 to 1,243 m above sea level. It is the remnant of the cool-temperate beech forests that have covered the hills and mountain slopes of northern Japan since eight to twelve thousand years ago.
Beech (Fagus) forests are distributed across North America, Europe, and East Asia. Thought to have originated from circumpolar vegetation prior to the Last Glacial Stage, beech forests shifted their distribution from the circumpolar region to the south in the Last Glacial Stage, but in many places mountainous areas stretching east to west blocked the shifts and the vegetation became simplified. However, in Japan, the vegetation retreated to southern Japan maintaining the original diversity of the circumpolar region and re-colonized after the most recent glacial stage. The beech forest of Shirakami-Sanchi is a climax forest established in this manner and maintains various elements of Arcto-Tertiary Geoflora.
Reflecting the distinct heavy-snow environment of the inland areas along the Sea of Japan, a rare climatic condition in the world, Shirakami-Sanchi has forests of monodominant Fagus crenata, a species endemic to Japan. A unique plant community with diverse flora, including undergrowth dominated by evergreen Sasa kurilensis, it is also a habitat for rare bird species such as the black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), and large mammals such as the Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus) and Japanese black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicas), which requires a diverse forest environment including old-growth forest. As these and other species are all interacting as functional elements of the ecosystem, the property keeps the complete ecosystem of stable climax beech forest.
Criterion (ix): Shirakami-Sanchi is dominated by beech accompanied by diverse vegetation that escaped simplification during the earths’ glacial stages by shifting its distribution towards the south, resulting in a virtually undisturbed, pristine climax wilderness forest. The property covers approximately one third of the Shirakami mountain range and comprises a maze of steep sided hills and summits. The undisturbed wilderness condition of the area is wild and rare in eastern Asia with no other protected area in Japan containing a large unmodified beech forest like that found in the property. The extent of its pristine forest without extrinsic development sets the property apart in densely populated, long-inhabited Japan and across Asia.
The property is the last and best relic of the cool-temperate beech forests that once covered northern Japan. A member of the genus dominant in cool-temperate forests in the northern hemisphere, Siebold’s beech (Fagus crenata) comprises the mono-specific canopy and the forest contains the main species of the ecosystem including black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius), Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus), Japanese black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicas), Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) and dwarf bamboo (Sasa kurilensis). The forest ecosystem reflects the history of global climate changes and the heavy-snow environment, and is an outstanding example of ongoing processes in the development and succession of communities of plants together with the animal groups that depend on them. The property is thus very important for studies on terrestrial cool-temperate ecology, particularly on Eurasian beech forest ecosystem processes, and for long-term monitoring of the climate and vegetation changes.
Shirakami-Sanchi contains a large pristine, non-fragmented beech forest. Planted forests of timber trees, such as Japanese cedar, have replaced many of the beech forests in northern Japan while within the boundaries of the property the unmodified beech forests are densely and continuously distributed. The area is largely a wilderness with no access trails or man-made facilities. The property includes all elements necessary to maintain the ecosystem function of beech forests and the area of the property, 16,971 ha in total, is of an adequate size to ensure the long-term existence of the beech forest ecosystem.
Further to the strict legal protections, almost no logging of beech trees has been carried out in the property due to lack of access to the central part and precipitous topography of the property. Also, tourism activities are limited mainly to the areas near the boundary or the surrounding areas of the property. Consequently, the property preserves this extensive area of pristine forest with little human intervention.
Protection and Management Requirements
Management of Protected Areas in Japan involves a number of Government Ministries, Agencies and the relevant Prefectures. This results in a complex management system but it functions well with strong links, communication and cooperation. The entire property of Shirakami-Sanchi is part of the national forests owned and managed by the National Government. The property is covered by legislation from three government agencies; the Ministry of the Environment, the Forestry Agency and the Agency for Cultural Affairs with responsibilities for management shared between these agencies and the two prefectures, Aomori and Akita.
The property includes a number of designated protected areas: Shirakami-Sanchi Nature Conservation Area under the Nature Conservation Law (1972), several Natural Parks under the Natural Parks Law (1957) including Tsugaru Quasi-national Park, Shirakami-Sanchi National Wildlife Protection Area under the Wildlife Protection and Hunting Management Law (2002), and Shirakami-Sanchi Forest Ecosystem Reserve under the Law on the Administration and Management of National Forests (1951). Each of these designations falls under the Governments system of protection for the natural environment of Japan and has strict legal regulations regarding development and other activities.
Development activities are restricted across the property by the designation as a Forest Ecosystem Reserve where the pristine forest is preserved without timber production and is left to follow nature’s course without human interference. In the major areas of the property, collection of specified plant species is prohibited in the Wildlife Protection Zone of the Nature Conservation Area, and collection of any plant species is prohibited in the special protection zone of the Quasi-national Park. In 2004, the property and the surrounding area were designated as the Shirakami-Sanchi National Wildlife Protection Area, and hunting is not allowed on animal and bird species living in the area such as Japanese black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicas), Japanese serow (Capricornis crispus), the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos japonica), mountain hawk-eagle (Spizaetus nipalensis orientalis) and black woodpecker (Dryocopus martius). They are also covered by various protective regulations. As for fish species, all rivers in the property are designated as no-fishing area. In addition to the protected area designations, some species are legally protected. For example, the Japanese serow is designated as a Special Natural Monument, while the golden eagle, mountain hawk-eagle and black woodpecker are designated as National Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and/or Natural Monuments.
The managing authorities of these protection systems; the Ministry of the Environment, the Forestry Agency and the Agency for Cultural Affairs, jointly formulated the Shirakami-Sanchi World Heritage Area Management Plan in 1995 to facilitate smooth management of these multi-tiered protected areas and species, and the property is managed as a single unit based on this plan.
The local offices of the relevant ministries and prefectural governments involved in management of the property established the Shirakami-Sanchi World Heritage Area Liaison Committee in 1995 to promote conservation management of the property in collaboration and cooperation with the local community. The Liaison Committee coordinates the management of the property including information sharing, awareness raising, instructions to visitors, and maintenance of facilities. From FY2012, relevant municipalities also participate in the Liaison Committee. The Shirakami-Sanchi World Heritage Area Scientific Council, comprised of experienced scientists, was set up by the Liaison Committee in 2010 and the Scientific Council is promoting the adaptive conservation management of the property and ensuring that management decisions are made within the context of the latest scientific knowledge available.