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Home > About the cranes > In the landscape > Wetlands in eastern Hokkaido

Wetlands in eastern Hokkaido

Wetlands act as an interface between the terrestrial and aquatic habitats and are home to a wide range of organisms. However, wetlands have been subject to changes at the geological and ecological time scales.


Kushiro wetland
Size
The Kushiro wetland is the largest wetland remaining in Japan today. Its area (183 km2) is close to that of Washington D.C. in the United States.

Biodiversity
  • mammals: 39 species
  • birds: 200+ species
  • reptiles: 5 species
  • amphibians: 4 species
  • fish: 38 species
  • insects: 1100+ species (including 90+ species of butterflies, 48 species of dragonflies, and about 100 species of beetles)
  • plants: 600+ species (including 80+ species of woody plants)

Changes at the ecological time scale
  • Alder and willow trees have been gradually invading the reed beds.
  • Also, parts of the wetland have been converted into agricultural fields and residential/commercial areas.
  • The area of reed beds has decreased from 225 km2 in 1947 to 104 km2 in 2004.
modified from: http://www.milt.go.jp/river/shinngikai_blog/shaseishin/kasenbunkakai/
shouiinkai/kihonhoushin/060711/pdf/ref5.1.pdf

Changes at the geological time scale
  • Up to about 10000 years ago, the present-day Kushiro wetland was dry uplands due to lower sea levels.
  • About 6000 years ago, the present-day wetland was under the sea, forming a large inlet.
  • The sea level gradually lowered for the next 2000 years and then stabilized about 4000 years ago.
  • Accumulation of peat filled in the inlet.
  • The wetland as we see today has been formed about 3000 years ago.
  • Many other wetlands in eastern and northern Hokkaido have been created in the same way.
modified from Ministry of the Environment (Japan): https://www.env.go.jp/park/kushiro/intro/outline.html

Other wetlands in eastern Hokkaido where the red-crowned crane can be found

Bekambeushi wetland
Parts of this wetland are designated as a Ramsar site. It is located about an hour drive east of Kushiro. This wetland stretches along Bekambeushi river.
The river drains into Lake Akkeshi which is famous for oyster aquaculture.

Kiritappu wetland
A Ramsar site. It is located about 1.5 hour drive east of Kushiro. About 700 species of plants and 280 species of birds have been recorded in the vicinity of this relatively small wetland. The sea adjacent to Kiritappu wetland supports productive kelp forests.

Lake Furen
A part of Lake Furen is designated as a Ramsar site. It is located at the base of Nemuro peninsula, about 2 hours drive east of Kushiro. It is a shallow brackish lake with extensive mudflats. Lake Furen is an important staging ground for migratory water birds.

Notsuke Peninsula
Notsuke Peninsula is a large sandspit formed over thousands of years. The shallow bay between the peninsula and the mainland is designated as a Ramsar site.
Notsuke Peninsula is an important staging ground for shorebirds and brant (a small goose).

References:
  • Kiritappu Wetland Center. 2017. http://kiritappu.mond.jp/center/kiritappu_guide.html (in Japanese)
  • Kurita, M. & Kondo, N. 2008. Nature Guide: Notsuke, Furen, and Nemuro, Revised edition (in Japanese). Hokkaido Shinbun, Sapporo, Hokkaido.
  • Ministry of the Environment (Japan). 2016. https://www.env.go.jp/park/kushiro/intro/outline.html (in Japanese)
  • Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism 2006. http://www.mlit.go.jp/river/shinngikai_blog/shaseishin/kasenbunkakai/ shouiinkai/kihonhoushin/060711/pdf/ref5-1.pdf (in Japanese)
  • Sugisawa, T. 2000. Kushiro Wetland (in Japanese). Hokkaido Shinbun, Sapporo, Hokkaido.


Red-crowned Crane ConservancyRed-crowned Crane Conservancy


9-21 Wakatake-cho, Kushiro, Hokkaido 085-0036 JAPAN