Activity Report

Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.4

Learn about diverse ecosystems and conservation efforts in the forests, nature around villages, and oceans of Sado Island

Report from Niigata University

During a seven-day period from July 20 to 26, 2019, our university held a training for a total of seventeen foreign students and their instructors. In addition to Chinese students from the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) and Kunming Institute of Botany, both of which belong to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and are located in Yunnan Province, we also welcomed students from Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, India, Myanmar and Thailand. Through the training, participants learned about the diverse ecosystems and conservation efforts in the forests, natural areas around villages, and oceans of Sado Island.

During forest exercises, participants visited the Niigata University Forest to observe representative vegetation of Japan (evergreen broad-leaved forests, deciduous broad-leaved forests, evergreen coniferous forests, and planted forests). Participants walked through a natural cedar forest that has been protected for a long time, and observed creatures on a natural grassland that is becoming an extremely rare type of vegetation in Japan. In the late afternoon, a lecture was given on the natural environment of Sado Island and students engaged in systematic study for the types of vegetation to be observed during the training. In the evening, participants engaged in nighttime observation of various types of nocturnal insects. We were also surprised to encounter two Japanese pit vipers. The curious participants observed the vipers while being sure to maintain safety.

In front of a natural cedar tree

During ocean exercises, students visited the Niigata University Marine Biological Station to attend a lecture on the Sea of Japan and its inhabitants, as well as to tour the station. Afterwards, under the guidance of station faculty and staff, participants went snorkeling and collected organisms. For some of the participating students living in landlocked areas, it was their first time entering the ocean. Although those students appeared apprehensive when initially entering the water, they soon got used to snorkeling and became engrossed in collecting organisms. Back in the classroom, students roughly classified the collected organisms, and then observed the organisms while listening to explanations. Some participants showed their high level of interest in marine life by making detailed sketches. Participants also gathered plankton and took samples of marine life from the port area and off the embankment. All students showed great surprise at the diversity of marine life.

All aboard! Students head to collect marine organisms!
Collecting organisms while snorkeling

During the training in natural areas around villages, we toured a biotope called Kisen Castle in the Kosado area of Sado Island. Participants conducted a survey of living creatures. Participants learned about creatures which had once lived in natural areas around villages and the surrounding countryside, as well as the crest ibis which had eaten those creatures. We also had the good fortune to encounter a crested ibis and we observed it by using a field telescope.

Conducting a survey of living creatures in natural areas around villages
Observing a crested ibis in natural areas around villages

At the end of the program, participants stopped in Tokyo before returning home. In Tokyo, they summarized the training contents, and compared the ecosystems of Japan with the ecosystems in their native countries. After successfully finishing the final steps of the program, the participants left for home. In addition to learning about the various ecosystems near the Sea of Japan and about conservation efforts for those areas, participants were also able to experience various aspects of Japanese cultures and deepen their friendships. We hope that this training will serve as a bridge for interaction between Japan and other countries in the future.