Eco-DRR Project

Research Program

Eco-DRR Project

Outline of the project

Globally, the rate of natural disaster occurrence has been increasing, partly due to contemporary climate change. Accordingly, adaptation to natural disaster risks is increasingly important to the sustainability of human societies. At the same time, many societies are experiencing shrinking populations. Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) takes advantage of the multi-functionality of ecosystems and biodiversity, including their capacity to mitigate natural disasters while providing multiple ecosystem services. Population decline provides ample opportunity for implementing Eco-DRR. Our project will develop practical solutions for the implementation of Eco-DRR by visualizing natural disaster risks, evaluating the multi-functionality of Eco-DRR solutions, conducting transdisciplinary scenario analysis, examining traditional and local knowledge of disaster risk reduction, and collaborating with the insurance industry and other sectors.

Background and goals

Climate change impacts natural and human systems, and these impacts are projected to intensify in the future. Our project focuses on reducing risk and developing management strategies related to natural disasters. The risk of natural disasters results from the interaction between a climate-related hazard and the exposure and vulnerability of human activities (Fig. 1); therefore, adaptation to natural disaster risk can be realized by reducing exposure (e.g., by improving land use) and vulnerability to hazards. Hard engineering of natural disaster countermeasures has targeted safety levels below which natural disasters can be prevented. Although these countermeasures are effective if the hazard level of the natural disaster is below the target safety level, societies increasingly face situations in which hazards exceed safety levels, resulting in devastating natural disasters. Eco-DRR approaches focus on lowering the exposure of human activities to natural hazards to reduce, if not prevent, associated losses and damages. Eco-DRR approaches take advantage of the multi-functionality of ecosystems, complementing conventional approaches to natural disaster management even though the effectiveness and multifunctionality of Eco-DRR are not yet clearly and quantitatively understood. The population of Japan increased substantially over the last century, increasing both the risk of and public exposure to natural disasters. Recently, however, the population is aging and shrinking, leading to the abandonment of farmlands and houses as well as decreases in other intensive land uses, a challenging circumstance that nevertheless provides an opportunity for improving land use. Evaluating past natural disaster risks in both expanding and shrinking population contexts therefore provides valuable information about adaptation strategies considered in Japan as well as in other countries. Given this background, the Eco-DRR project sets two main goals. First, it develops methodologies to evaluate Eco-DRR multi-functionality and assess Eco-DRR by comparing multi-functionality in the past, present and future. Secondly, the project supports Eco-DRR implementation through transdisciplinary collaborations with local communities, governments, insurance industry and other stakeholders.

Fig. 1 Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction not only lowers disaster risks but also enhances the benefits of ecosystem services by reducing the exposure of human activities in high-hazard locations and supporting human activities in low-hazard locations.

Research objectives

Three research components contribute to achieve the above two goals:

  1. Visualizing risks of natural disasters in the present and past Exposure and vulnerability to different natural disasters is analyzed, and societal risk is evaluated and visualized with risk maps of the present and past. Modeling risk for different exposure scenarios will contribute to future Eco-DRR assessments and plans.
  2. Evaluating and modeling multi-functionality of Eco-DRR Provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services will be evaluated, and their spatial distribution will be modeled in relation to population and land use. The model will be used to evaluate the ecosystem services associated with different land use scenarios.
  3. Transdisciplinary approaches for implementing Eco-DRR in society Together with local stakeholders, transdisciplinary platforms will be formed at each of the local research sites by taking advantage of existing platforms. Transdisciplinary platforms will deepen mutual understanding, promote discussion of future options, and build consensus regarding the use of Eco-DRR. Multifunctionality of Eco-DRR at each local site will be evaluated, and research outcomes will be shared with local stakeholders using our transdisciplinary platform. In addition, traditional and local knowledge of Eco-DRR will be inventoried and evaluated for multifunctionality so that the benefits of traditional and local knowledge can be shared with the general public. In collaboration with the insurance industry, a research forum will be formed to discuss the possibility and feasibility of insurance industry contributions to the economic incentives of Eco-DRR. Various laws and institutions in national and local governments related to disaster risk reduction and land use will be assessed in the research forum as well.
Photo 1 Mikatagoko area in Fukui Prefecture, one of the research sites.
Photo 1 Mikatagoko area in Fukui Prefecture, one of the research sites.
Photo 2 Hira mountains and their base area in Shiga Prefecture, one of the research sites. Photo courtesy of MATSUI Kimiaki.
Photo 2 Hira mountains and their base area in Shiga Prefecture, one of the research sites. Photo courtesy of MATSUI Kimiaki.

Recent results

We have launched a website to disseminate our research results of assessing land use in terms of disaster risks and ecosystem services. The website is named J-ADRES for short ( and has been open to the public since the spring of 2022. We evaluated the role of land use for avoiding disasters as “safety from disasters” and various ecosystem services as “richness of nature”, and the results are used for J-ADRES to provide a basis for examining the current and future state of land use. Currently, only the results for disasters caused by flooding are shown. In the future, we plan to make the results for landslides and storm surges available as well.

Fig. 2 Image of J-ADRES, a website for disseminating the results of integrated assessments of land use.


Project Leader

YOSHIDA Takehito

RIHN/The University of Tokyo


Sub Leader

AIBA Masahiro(Specially Appointed Assistant Professor)

Researchers at RIHN

HUANG Wanhui(Researcher)
NAKAI Minami(Research Associate)
SENDA Masako(Research Associate)
SHIMAUCHI Risa(Research Associate)

Main Members

AKIYAMA Yuki(Tokyo City University)
FUKAMACHI Katsue(Kyoto University)
FURUTA Naoya(Taisho University / IUCN)
HASHIMOTO Shizuka(University of Tokyo)
ICHINOSE Tomohiro(Keio University)
MIYOSHI Iwao(Kyoto Prefectural University)
NISHIDA Takaaki(Kyoto Sangyo University)
NISHIHIRO Jun(National Institute for Environmental Studies)
SAITO Osamu(Institute for Global Environmental Strategies)
SHIBASAKI Ryosuke(University of Tokyo)
SHOUJI Tarou(Pacific Consultants Co., Ltd.)
TAKI Kentaro(University of Shiga Prefecture)
UEHARA Misato(Shinshu University)
URASHIMA Hiroko(MS & AD Insurance Group Holdings, Inc.)

Evaluation by an external evaluation committee

Research schedule

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022