Agricultural Biodiversity

Agricultural Biodiversity & Ecosystem Functions


Over 300 varieties in cultivation

Farmers in the Kyoto region currently grow and hold 148 varieties of grapes, including the indigenous Koshu grape, and 86 confirmed varieties of peach, including the Asama Hakuto, a locally bred white peach variety.

At least 80 of these varieties, including 38 grape and 32 peach, were bred and selected in the Kyoto region, which has become a preservation site for fruit tree genetic resources.

One long-cultivated variety is the Hakuho peach, which has been grown in Japan for more than 80 years since it was created. The Hakuho is still the main variety grown today, and many other varieties have also been bred from it. The Asama Hakuto is younger than the Hakuho and has its roots in the “Shanghai honey nectar peach,” which was introduced to Japan in the early years of the Meiji period (1868–1912).


Maintaining and passing on the Koshu grape, a variety indigenous to Japan

The Koshu grape is said to have been introduced to Japan 800, or perhaps even 1300 years ago, when European grapes made their way to China and were interbred with wild varieties. There are two theories about the origin of the Koshu grape: One says that a Buddhist priest Gyoki began cultivating them, and the other that Kageyu Amemiya from the Katsunuma region discovered the variety and began cultivating it.

The Koshu is an extremely important variety in terms of the history, culture, and technological development of fruit cultivation in Yamanashi Prefecture, and is still grown today as a dual-purpose variety that is both eaten fresh and used to make wine.


Biodiversity in and around the orchards

The orchards and their surrounding areas provide habitats for a wide range of species. In particular, the cultivation of grass in the orchards prevents soil loss on sloping land and supplies organic matter to the soil, while also contributing greatly to biodiversity through the creation of plants and insect habitats on orchard land.

Biota surveys (of plants, insects, and birds) conducted in 2015 and 2017 by the Council for the Promotion of the Kyoto Region as a GIAHS Site confirmed the presence of a diverse range of plants and insects in the orchards and nearby roadside areas, including 269 plant species in 64 families and 35 orders (also 1 subspecies, 4 varieties, and 5 forms) and 550 insect species in 205 families and 16 orders (number of taxons).