The “Watarase Future Project” was launched in 2000 with the aim of reviving the “Watarase Reservoir” (Watarase Wetland), one of the two major wetlands in the Kanto area, along with the Lake Kasumigaura. There is an ongoing project aiming at the future comeback of wild white storks and Japanese crested ibises by relating these two wetland projects.
As for the Watarase Future Project, it is proposed that reeds from the reservoir should be utilized in the forest revival program in the Ashio Mountains upstream. In this project to invigorate communities, an integral environment revival project will also be carried out by linking the public project (afforestation for flood control) upstream with local industry (the reed screen-manufacturing industry) downstream (Fig. 14).
The Watarase wetland has the most extensive reed beds in Japan, which are home to many endangered species. These reed beds have been maintained by the local reed screen-manufacturing industry. Overwhelmed by imports of reeds, however, this industry has been declining in recent years, leading to endangerment of the reed beds.
In response to this situation, we proposed that another source of demand for reeds should be created: the utilization of the reeds from the Watarase wetland in the forest revival program in the Ashio Mountains upstream. Assisting and promoting this local industry would protect the vast reed beds. This initiative was started by including the subject in lessons in elementary schools. Experiments also started in collaboration with the Forestry Agency. In the past, the forest had been poisoned by sulfurous acid from the Ashio Mine Pollution and the resultant deforestation had allowed large amounts of soil and nutrients to be swept out of the Ashio Mountains. Rain and floods drove many of these nutrients into the Watarase Reservoir (Watarase wetland). Attempts have now begun to return these nutrients to the Ashio Mountains in the form of reeds through an environment revival project. Reeds are utilized in the forest revival program in the Ashio Mountains, both to prevent soil erosion and as compost (Fig. 15).