Minami Alps Minami-alps Biosphere Reserve: The Biological and Cultural Diversity of its High Mountains and Deep Valleys

Minami Alps, the Green Mountain Zone

The Minami Alps, also known as the Akaishi Mountains, straddle the three prefectures of Yamanashi, Nagano, and Shizuoka. Stretching 15 km east to west and 50 km north to south, this is one of Japan’s largest mountainous areas, with thirteen peaks in excess of 3,000 m. It is also one of the wettest parts of Japan, so there is a very distinct vertical distribution of forest cover from the lower altitudes to the highest elevations at 3,000 m. It also contains a natural environment rich in biodiversity, where many endemic species, or species at their southernmost limit, live, including the Callianthemum hondense and the Rock Ptarmigan, a remnant of the last Ice Age. The ridges contain large numbers of peneplains and glacial landforms (cirques). Active crustal movements are causing the mountains to rise by around 4 mm a year.

Ten Municipalities United

The ten municipalities in the three prefectures in which the mountains of the Minami Alps have long blocked communication have formed the Minami-alps Biosphere Reserve under the banner of “Biological and Cultural Diversity in High Mountains and Deep Valleys.” Along with positioning the natural environment and culture of the Minami Alps as a shared asset, it is designed to help create an attractive region which makes use of its natural bounty and expands exchanges within the region, through joint initiatives for the sustainable use and permanent preservation of its superb natural environment.

Process Leading to Biosphere Reserve Registration

Sept. 2013
Decision made for a national recommendation for the Minami Alps to be a Minami-alps Biosphere Reserve.
End Sept. 2013
Application submitted to the UNESCO MAB Office.
Jan. – Feb. 2014
UNESCO’s International Advisory Committee recommended the examination results to the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s MAB Programme.
Jun. – Jul. 2014
Registration approved at the 26th Session of the International Co-ordinating Council of UNESCO’s MAB Programme (held in Sweden).

Biosphere Reserve Zoning Concept

Core Areas
Areas to be strictly preserved
Buffer Zones
Areas to be used for research, environmental education, outdoor activities, tourism, or leisure in such a way that does not cause harm to the core areas
Transition Areas
Areas where habitation is permitted for constructing local communities and which are used for sustainable development


Total area: 302,474 ha (Core Areas: 24,970 ha; Buffer Zones: 72,389 ha; Transition Areas: 205,115 ha)