Forest garden in Shiso-shi, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan / cotaro70s Flickr Creative Commons

Hyogo Prefecture’s forest conservation and river management

In 2005, the Hyogo Prefectural Government (Hyogo) formulated the “Hyogo Forest Conservation and River Improvement Project” to reduce typhoon and flood impacts based on its frequent experiences with serious disaster damage. At the same time, Hyogo pursues initiatives based on a proper combination of self-support, mutual-help and public assistance in a well-planned manner.

Case Study (HFA Priority 4)

Hyogo Prefecture’s forest conservation and river management


The storm and flooding that hit Hyogo in 2004 and 2009 started with debris flow from upstream and the collapse of trees, causing a series of damage from forests, mountains, rivers and coastal areas. As a result, Hyogo recognized the necessity of implementing comprehensive disaster prevention measures that address the natural environment and the land use situation in the region.

Hyogo had developed a certain level of disaster prevention infrastructure such as river embankments. Many citizens, however, who had received evacuation instructions, did not evacuate. The victims were usually elderly people and others in need of special care at the time of the disasters. Under such circumstances, it was necessary for Hyogo to create a framework of “mutual help” in which citizens help each other and are well aware of the importance of “self-support” through which each person protects his/her life and assets.

The following points characterized the project: 

  1. Clearly stating the development ratio of structural measures (river embankments) and future development targets;
  2. Cleary stating the disaster risks including the limitations of Hyogo’s disaster prevention capability (public assistance);
  3. Documenting Hyogo’s e-structural measures to compensate for the inadequacies of its structural measures and promote citizens’ self-support and mutual help activities;
  4. The project is comprehensive involving disaster counter measures for the entire region from mountain areas to coastal areas. It is based on the belief that not only river management, but also forest conservation, are indispensable for preventing flood damage.

Coping Strategy

To make citizens aware of the current state of structural measures for disaster prevention as well as the limitations of their capability, Hyogo published the development status of the structural measures in place for each river, with a 10-year regional vision and prioritized measures to achieve development goals for disaster prevention.

To promote disaster prevention activities among citizens, Hyogo highlighted the limitations of its structural measures for disaster prevention (i.e. disaster risks) while initiating non-structural measures for disaster reduction based on information technology and relevant knowledge. Since it required comprehensive disaster management measures to address the natural environment and the land use situation from the perspective of the entire river basin (forests, mountains, rivers and coastal areas), Hyogo established the “Disaster Reconstruction Office” in 2004 with the cooperation of the departments of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery to promote the measures effectively.


These developments resulted in the “Hyogo Forest Conservation and River Improvement Project” which encouraged government, citizens and other stakeholders to work jointly in a cooperative manner for effective disaster reduction.

Measuring Success

Repeatedly hit by storms and floods, after each disaster, Hyogo now compares the damage from the latest disaster to the previous damage. This type of comparison is an effective indicator to evaluate the progress of disaster prevention measures after the previous disaster, and is usable for implementation of forest conservation and river improvement programmes. 

As an actual result of its structural measures, a river channel renovation project carried out by Hyogo served to prevent damage from the extremely heavy rainfall in 2013, compared to the 2004 typhoon, with a similar amount of rainfall amount that had caused serious damage.

Hyogo upgraded its non-structural measures substantially. For example, it began to release computer graphics-based hazard maps on its official website, established an IT system to forecast the level of landslide risk, published potential tsunami flood maps based on the simulation of the predicted Nankai Trough Earthquake, and developed the river monitoring camera systems.

Potential for Replication

Many countries can fully embrace the concept of reducing their overall disaster damage by building up such a framework of self-support and mutual help (non-structural measures) to minimize damage, instead of merely developing structural measures such as public works construction. Since Internet and smart-phone services are now increasingly available, such non-structural measures can be universally applied in many countries.

Information of Contact Person

Mr. Masahiko Murata – Director, Research Department

Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI)

1-5-2 Wakinohama-kaigandori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, 651-0073, Japan

Tel: +81-78-262-5065 / Fax: +81-78-262-5082



Mr.Naoki Nakatsu

Chief, Disaster Management Project Planning Division,

Disaster Management & Planning Bureau,

Civil Policy Planning & Administration Department

5-10-1 Shimoyamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-8567, Japan

Tel: +81-78-362-9870 / Fax: +81-78-362-9914