In Japan’s Managed Landscape, a Struggle to Save the Bears
Although it is a heavily urbanized nation, fully two-thirds of Japan remains woodlands. Yet many of the forests are timber plantations inhospitable to wildlife, especially black bears, which are struggling to survive in one of the most densely populated countries on Earth.
Vast single-species stands of timber lack the plant diversity found in natural forests, and plant diversity forms the foundation for animal diversity. Black bears, for example, are omnivorous but prefer to eat young leaves, insects, berries, and acorns — few of which can be found in timber plantations.
What natural forest remains has been fragmented by roads and other development, leaving less and less room for Japan’s bears and putting them in conflict with humans — a clash that is rapidly driving down bear populations.
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