Sarobetsu Wetland Center






East Asian - Australasian flyway


WLI Asia


Name of organisation

Sarobetsu Wetland Center / Ministry of the Environment, Toyotomi Town, NPO Sarobetsu Eco Network

Funding support

Ministry of the Environment, Toyotomi Town

Number of staff


Number of visitors per year


Overall aims of the centre

Introduce the nature of the Sarobetsu Wetland and act as a base for wetlands education and conservation activities

Description of the centre

Location: Toyotomi-cho and Horonobe-cho, approximately 40km from Wakkanai City at the northern end of Hokkaido.

Size of site: The wetland is approximately 6,700ha, of which approximately 560ha is a bog. It’s the largest bog in Japan.

Types of habitats and species supported: The Sarobetsu Wetland is home to the Ezo lesser shrew, one of the smallest mammals in the world, and the viviparous lizard, which is only found in Hokkaido’s Soya District. The forests around the marshes serve as breeding sites for white-tailed sea eagles, smews, tufted ducks, and other birds. The Penke Marsh, the Panke Marsh, and the nearby rivers are inhabited by Japanese huchens and provide breeding sites for red-crowned cranes. From spring to autumn, over 500 species of plants bloom in the wetland. There are also mountain cranberries and sundew, which are small marsh plants typically found in high moors.

Featured programs:

Nature Regeneration Guide Program

Work Areas

Main CEPA work area

Education, Participation, Awareness-raising

Top three successes

1.Nature restoration experience program

On this program, participants go to areas with depleted plant life and help to promote it. For example, in area lacking grass, participants lay down nets which will aid nature in its growth. This program’s participants rate the experience highly because they can make a direct contribution to the restoration effort. They also like that you can enter the back areas of the wetland that cannot be accessed normally.

2.Nature experience activities for children in the wetland center.

Children have the opportunity to observe plants and birds while learning about the wetland. This is aimed at creating early awareness about the importance of nature and its conservation. Participation has increased over the years. People who will support environmental conservation in the future have been appearing one after another. Administrative support such as the implementation of a bus between the town and the wetland center has made participation much easier. Spreading awareness of the activities has also been a main focus.

3.Nature guide program

The nature guide program is similar to the children’s activities, but is designed for adults. The information about the region’s animals and flowers is much more in depth, and the information provided also includes details about the history area. With nature as the main focus, guides seek to express the importance of nature and nature conservation/ restoration efforts. Although this program has a participation fee, tourists often come back to take part in the program during other seasons. Guides make a continuous effort to improve their ability to disseminate information in an interesting, easy-to-understand manner, and this combined with the natural beauty of the area has made a large contribution to the program.

Top three challenges

1.Development of educational curriculum in collaboration with school.

Thinking it would be beneficial to study about the wetland through educational programs and materials in the local elementary, junior high, and high schools, we once consulted with those at the elementary school. However, due to the lock of available time for teachers and because of the required collaboration across multiple grade levels, it did not happen. Because it is difficult to implement all aspects of this idea at once, we are now taking it step-by-step and are currently looking for motivated teachers to work on it grade-by-grade.


2.Nature experience activities for children in the wetland center.

Previously, children were unable to come to the wetland center by themselves due to the distance between it and the town. Furthermore, the activities were not well-known, so there were hardly any participants. At that time, the program was in danger of failing. Today, however, with the cooperation of the Board of Education and schools, the wetland center staff can distribute flyers and pass information to all of the students. On the days when activities are held, there is a free bus to take participants back and forth from the town to the wetland center, so children can attend by themselves if so desired.


3.Multilingual guide program / exhibit

Tourists from abroad are on the rise, but the wetland center’s exhibits and guides are almost solely in Japanese. The website is also only in Japanese, so it is hard for foreign visitors to find information. Due to budget limitations it currently is not possible for us to support multiple languages. However, with the cooperation of one of the English teachers here, we have been able to take small steps toward providing English support.


Interpretation techniques

Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Using audio-visual tools; Developing nature trails

Visitor centres

Setting up a new visitor centre; Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures


Working with disabled people; Engaging young people; Engaging the local community; Working with volunteers

Education and communication

Delivering adult education; Working with primary schools; Working with secondary schools; Developing resources / materials


Auditing / assessing effectiveness; PR and marketing; Running effective administration; Health and safety; Fund-raising; Project planning.


Sarobetsu Wetland Center,

Kami-Sarobetsu 8662,

Toyotomi-cho, Teshio-gun,

Hokkaido, 098-4100,



Name: Toshihiro SHIMAZAKI



Other information

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