Tokai Nature Trail (東海自然歩道)

Tokai Nature Trail is a long-distance nature trail that connects the distance of 1,697 km from 'Meiji.html">Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park' in Hachioji City, Tokyo Prefecture to 'Meiji.html">Meiji no Mori Mino Quasi-National Park' in Minoo City, Osaka Prefecture, extending over 11 prefectures and some 90 municipalities.

History

In 1969, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (later the department in charge was succeeded by the Ministry of Environment) proposed the construction of a long-distance nature trail, and the construction that started in 1970 under the cooperation of the municipalities concerned, completed in 1974.

Background and construction history

The project of Tokaido Nature Trail construction was presented at the beginning of the year 1969 as a policy of the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

At that time, induced by the drastic infrastructure development and urban congestion, negative impacts of the rapid economic growth, including four major pollution diseases, anticipated to become more serious, and therefore, when this project proposed the reevaluation of the nature as a space of relaxation, it gained the public overwhelming support, and since then, following this example, many nature trails has been constructed.

The planification and implementation of Tokai Nature Trail owed largely to the efforts of Michio OI, who was at the then National Park Department of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (later National Park Bureau of the Environment Agency).

He joined the Environmental Agency from the outset of the Agency's establishment, after serving at the Ministry of Health and Welfare. He conceptualized the construction of Tokai Nature Trail, the first nature trail in Japan, and carried out the construction, taking a hint from nature trails in the United States including the one constructed in the Appalachian Mountains.

His plan of connecting two national parks gave the opportunity to the highlands, marshlands, and valleys among others located on the trail to be successively designated as national parks.

The attempt of designating the places that were not tourist spots nor deep mountains but gifted with natural ecosystems as national parks, allocated a new role as a protected forest network to the national parks, which in general had been seen as tourist attractions until then, and thus inspired future possibilities for national parks.