The Shirakami Mountains are located in the western part of Aomori and Akita Prefectures in northern Honshu, Japan. A part of this area of some 170km² was designated as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993, as it is regarded as an outstanding example of preserved pristine forests of Japanese beech trees, Fagus crenata.
Hirosaki University founded “the Shirakami Institute for Environmental Sciences” in 2010. The initial aim of the institute is to promote comprehensive research of the mountains. The institute will play a vital role here as the center of the scientific researches and environmental educations, through gathering scientific specimens and data, and spreading valuable information. We also aim to contribute to the local societies through publishing guidebooks, textbooks and leaflets on nature, and to organize attractive education programs such as observation tours and symposiums.
The institute consists of four divisions.
The Botanical division makes floristic and
ecological researches of trees, herbs and fungi.
The Zoological division investigates all kinds of
animals of this area.
The Meteorological and Geological division deals with
local climates and terrestrial phenomena.
The division of Environmental Education and Cultural Studies
is a section which studies ways of promoting environmental education,
traditional culture in local communities,
and activities of people in this area such as "Matagi".