International Collaborative Research Report: Eco-tourism based on agro-biodiversity in the Western Ghats Region, India – Dr. Yoji Natori

Dr. Yoji Natori of AIU’s Global Studies Program has been conducting joint international research with Dr. Philip Varghese, a JSPS postdoctoral fellow hosted at AIU, on ecotourism* based on sustainable agriculture. Together, they aim to advance knowledge in the fields of tourism and biodiversity, its relevance for society, and sustainable development.
*Ecotourism: A system that aims to promote understanding of the value and importance of environmental, historical, cultural, and other features of the local region to tourists, leading to the conservation and preservation of those resources.

Collaborative Research Contents 

Balancing the preservation of the natural environment and human life is an unavoidable issue in a world aiming for sustainable development. Ecotourism based on sustainable agriculture is often cited as a means to achieve this goal. Using the Western Ghats region of India (Wayanad, Kerala) as a case study, the study looks at ecotourism as an activity that maintains agricultural biodiversity that leads to sustainable land use and utilization of natural resources. This research critically evaluates ecotourism’s role in supporting local livelihood, revival of traditional knowledge and practices in establishing the balance with nature through qualitative analyses of interviews conducted with the local stakeholders (such as farmers, homestay providers, environmentalists, local NGOs, and government officials). Through collaboration with the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative, the goal is to further diversify perspectives by adding information from Satoyama Initiative case studies, reviews, policy briefs, and workshop participation. 

This research project is subsidized by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) through Grants-in-Aid from December 2022 to March 2025.

Field Visit Photos: Wayanad, Kerala, India

Picture of coffee plantation
Robusta coffee plantation in Wayanad interspersed with Arecanut palm trees and pepper climbers.
Picture Wayanad rice fields
Wayanad, which literally can be translated as “land of paddy fields”.

Introduction of the Researchers

Dr. Philip Varghese

Dr. Philip Varghese is a JSPS postdoctoral fellow hosted at AIU since November 2022. He is also engaged with the United Nations University (Tokyo) Institute for the Advanced Studies of Sustainability’s Biodiversity and Society (BDS) program in various capacities.

Dr. Yoji Natori

Dr. Yoji Natori is an Associate Professor in AIU’s Global Studies Program, where he teaches in the Sustainability Studies cluster. He serves as Vice Chair of the Japan Committee for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Honorary Advisor of Conservation International Japan.