Azuma mountain is screaming

Rich nature is in a critical situation
Author : Aoyagi Kazuyoshi

From the window of two floor south sides of my house, the form of the grand Azuma mountain range can be seen almost right in front. Supporting life of the people from former times, being sustenance of people’s heart, locating as the source of Mogami river, it seems that this mountain just embodies the rich large nature.

However, as for me, the period which we presume upon the Azuma mountain came to an end. It seems like the present Azuma mountain is screaming of getting injured to here and there.
Probably from around the sixties, the mountain climbers to the Azuma mountain have started increasing. After the high economic growth period, the sight-seeing roads, the ropeways, and the lift etc. were serviced, and mountain-climbing entered into the age of the popular leisure.

Especially, when generally known the "Hundred name mountain (hyaku mei san)" boom happened from around eighties on, the surging tour customers of mountain-climbing in the group started appearing from around the country. Although affiliated industry of local was somewhat benefited from the boom, the nature of the mountain was hurt largely and deteriorated by the collective behavior of the tourists. Devastated bog, collapsed forest soil, the decrease of the rare plants, and the landslide along side sight-seeing roads are just the tip of the iceberg.

Among those, the bog faces especially serious situation. At the Azuma mountain range, many bogs have developed in the wide ridgeline along the traversing line of east and west. The jewel-like hollow(Chitou), and the various alpine plants endlessly attract the mountain climber. But the devastation advanced with the pressure of the human actions which exceeds natural recovery power.

Let me introduce you a case, which I am currently involved in: it is about the High bog, Yaheidaira, which spreads to the central part of the mountain range. About 40 years ago, the time I investigated with the biology club members of the high school where I was a teacher, the bog was very healthy and beautiful as a whole notwithstanding stepping marks for several meters alongside the traversing road.

However today, the stepping marks widened by 20 meters depending upon the place, the peat exposed, was eroded with the water, the base part the matrix appearing, and became like a bottom of river. It is the scenery which makes me wanting to cover my eyes.

From 4 years ago, receiving the Environmental Agency (the present environmental ministry) assistance, the Yamagata prefecture conducted a construction in order to prevent the erosion beyond present point and replaced the wooden pathway. The exposed peat layer is covered with the mat of the plant fiber, and the vegetation restoration project such as seeding the plant seed of several types has started, and presently is continued, but the progress is far from satisfaction.

Similar devastation of the bog is seen in several parts of the Azuma mountain range altogether, and lighter ravage such as retrogression and disappearance of the vegetation are accelerated in many areas.

As for the Azuma mountain range, despite the net of protection such as Bandai Asahi National Park and the forest ecosystem protective area around the Azuma mountain, measure keeps failing to forestall facing the increase of the mountain climbers which led to this kind of state. Just by people coming and going deteriorates the primeval nature. This is the paralleled phenomenon can be seen in the high mountains of the prefecture and entire country, regardless of various degrees.

We love the mountain, we value many living things existing there, and with that reason, we should apply the partial “entrance regulation (nyusan kisei)” according to circumstances and the government agency, trade associations, scholars, environment activists and so forth must urgently discuss the future plan how to associate with the nature.

(3/18/2004 Printed in Yamagata newspaper evening paper)

(Translated by Kiriko Takahashi)