While Kanagawa Prefecture has a highly concentrated population, being
located in part of the highly urbanized Tokyo region, it is endowed with
a mild climate and a rich natural environment, i.e., seas, mountains, rivers,
plains and hills.
Hakone and Tanzawa, both part of Kanagawa, present the richness of
its natural wealth, boasting many precious species and diverse ecosystems.
In recent years, however, destruction of these ecosystems has accelerated.
Both the Sagami River running through the central region of Kanagawa
and the Sakawa River running through the western region of Kanagawa are
valuable water resources for the 8.2 million residents of Kanagawa, along
with Lake Sagami, Lake Tsukui, Lake Tanzawa and the water supply areas
in Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures. Environmental degradation in these
water supply areas has increased in recent years.
Highly productive agricultural land located in the Sagami and Ashigara
Plains is also important as green fields.
With the Miura Peninsula and Oiso Hills, Kanagawa is endowed with natural
beauty even close to its urban areas, but this is also rapidly decreasing
due to urbanization.
Due to the expansion of residential land space and factory sites, green
cover in Kanagawa decreased from 167,565 ha (approximately 70% of land
area) in 1955 to about 121,722 ha (approximately 50% of land area) in 1944,
a decline of 45,843 ha or approximately one fifth of the land area within
40 years. While the decrease of green cover in the eastern area of Kanagawa
is significant, it is also noticeable in the central area.
In recent years, illegal dumping of waste and soil from construction
sites into mountains, rivers, seas and paddy fields is increasing, resulting
in serious problems.
A survey at the end of FY1995 showed that the volume of waste illegally
dumped in Kanagawa amounted to approximately 1,717 tons.