On 8 May, Kyoto University held a ceremony to inaugurate a new Field Station, completed in March in the jungles of the Amazon basin in Brazil. Around 100 attended from both Japan and Brazil, with the University represented by President Juichi Yamagiwa and Wildlife Research Center (WRC) Professor Shiro Koshima.
Located along an upstream section of the Cuieiras River, a tributary of the Rio Negro, the Station acts as a core facility for the "Biodiversity Conservation in the Amazon Based on a New Concept of 'Field Museum'" project, a joint undertaking between Kyoto University and the National Institute of Amazonian Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia: INPA). The initiative is supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), under the program "Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS)". Itochu Corporation provided additional support, making the initiative the first industry-government-academia collaboration to take place under SATREPS.
The property includes two buildings: one serving as both a meeting place and visitor center, and the other as an accommodation facility for up to 60 individuals.
The surrounding environment encompasses a vast, flooded forest, which remains largely pristine thanks to INPA protection. A camera-trap survey conducted around the Station shortly before the ceremony found a wide variety of wildlife, including pumas, South American tapirs, monkeys, and birds, demonstrating the facility's high potential as a research base.
Ceremony attendees included representatives from INPA and Itochu Corporation, as well as from the Japanese and Brazilian governments, media and tour companies, and the local community.
Professor Luiz Renato de Franca, head of INPA, described the Field Station as a project of tremendous value to local residents, as well as a symbol of coexistence among humans, animals, plants, and nature. KyotoU President Yamagiwa expressed high expectations for the facility as a long-term research base, suggesting that it can contribute to linking studies of Asian, African, and Amazonian rainforests, and accelerating efforts to protect these rich sources of biodiversity. Mr Akio Saito, chief representative of the JICA Brazil Office, stated, "Local participation is the key to enhancing the sustainability of this project. The real work begins now."
In addition to supporting research, the Station is scheduled to host field courses in July for local youth and undergraduates, taught by researchers. These will be followed in October by more advanced courses, in which faculty and students from the KyotoU Leading Graduate Program in Primatology and Wildlife Science are expected to participate.
There are also expectations for the facility to serve as an ecotourism destination, benefiting the local community both educationally and economically.