On 22 February 2013, Aya Biosphere Reserve was officially inaugurated at a national symposium in Tokyo (Japan) on the theme of UNESCO’s MAB Programme and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. At this occasion, Mr Maeda, mayor of Aya Town, received the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve certificate from Mr Thomas Schaaf, Secretary of the MAB Programme.
Aya Biosphere Reserve (or “eco-park”, as it is called in Japan) was designated in July 2012 as the country’s fifth biosphere reserve. Located on the southern island of Kyushu, Aya is noted for pioneering a strict waste recycling policy which was subsequently also adopted in other communities of Japan. Over 60% of all farmers in Aya BR practise organic farming which are marketed successfully well beyond the borders of the community. Artistic handicraft products are produced based on local natural resources. The core area of the Aya Biosphere Reserve consists of a well preserved lucidophyllous forest with laurel and beech trees. An educational forest culture centre informs visitors on the forest ecosystem with its plant and animal species and traditional agricultural and forestry practises of the area.