Save Niseko’s Natural Beauty !

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    Niseko is a beautiful natural area in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. It is blessed with an abundance of snow in the winter and beautiful scenery throughout the year. Now, Niseko needs your help and support. In the face of runaway overdevelopment that threatens the very features that make it a desirable place to visit, it is time to talk about Niseko’s future before it is too late.

     We are residents and people who visit Niseko and love it for its all-season nature and powder snow. Many of us are alarmed at the sudden appearance of construction sites dotting the landscape and believe it’s about time to think and act seriously about the speed and the amount of development in Niseko. We would like to unite as a group of concerned residents who will represent all of you interested in preserving Niseko’s positive qualities that we all love, to deal with issues of nature conservation. 

    We would like to talk with Niseko town officials about how we must deal with current and future development before more damage is done. Your support in signing this petition will give us the courage and momentum to work on this issue seriously.

    Niseko has been selected as an SDGs city (Sustainable Development Goals) by the Japanese government. One specific goal is to “protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” What is happening now doesn’t look sustainable at all. Achieving the SDGs goals seems impossible with the current land-use ratios and lack of zoning and oversight for new development projects. Sustainability is of the utmost importance. That means sustaining not just the economy, but flora and fauna, water quality into the future, ensuring that the beauty and utility of the mountain is not damaged by overcrowding. That means making sure that the forests in Niseko are not decimated. This means making sure that the interests of those who want to keep Niseko beautiful are not overwhelmed by people whose main concern is their spreadsheets.

   Niseko’s Quasi-City Planning Area, which includes Soga, Higashiyama and parts of Annupuri, has a 50% land coverage ratio when building (not including access roads and parking areas.) This is the same ratio as the part of Hirafu where condominiums are clustered tightly together, where there are not enough trees and not enough space for snow removal. Do we want Niseko to be like that? We believe that Niseko should have a varied zoning policy with detailed city planning. After all, isn’t natural beauty one of the main reasons people come to visit and live in Niseko? We understand that economic growth and development is necessary for Niseko going forward, but we insist that it not be at the cost of losing nature, biodiversity and our beautiful scenery. Niseko residents and Niseko town officials must cooperate to achieve the stated goals of the SDGs. Lukewarm measures and inaction will lead to a potential nightmare scenario that we are beginning to see now.

  We are asking specifically that all of us stop and think about the following things:
① What is the updated and current status of every single new development in Niseko? 
② Are existing regulations/rules actually being applied to new development projects?
③ What kinds of regulations and innovations can we propose that will allow for economic growth while safeguarding the natural beauty and environment to create a better and more beautiful future for Niseko?
  We would like Niseko town to think and make new rules for future development together with the input and consent of the townspeople and those who know and love Niseko summer and winter sports, and those who are concerned about environmental conservation in general. It is up to all of us to help preserve Niseko’s natural beauty while achieving its sustainability goals. 

  Don’t let investors and speculators turn Niseko into an unrecognizable shadow of its former self. Don’t let the once beautiful scenery of Niseko come to resemble a shopping mall. Don’t let runaway development lead to an overcrowding problem that is untenable for the size and capacity of the mountain. This is not necessarily a problem that is unique to Niseko. It is a problem that other great ski areas around the world face. But they respond quickly with prudent and innovative measures. And we in Niseko must do so, too. 

  If you see the wisdom of preserving Niseko’s natural beauty and ecosystems for those like us who love it and those who would like to responsibly enjoy it in the future, and you  agree that more oversight and public participation is necessary to make for a sustainable future for Niseko, please help by signing this petition. In addition, feel free to post any constructive thoughts, examples or ideas that you feel will work toward achieving the above goals.