Feasibility Study

Project NameAdaptations among the immigrants, the migrants and the refugees to the natural and social environmental changes caused by the developments and their impacts on environments
Project LeaderKazuhiro SUDA


○Research Subject and Objectives

  Human Development Report 2009 (UNDP, 2009) indicated that human mobility has been spurred with globalisation. The high human mobility has accelerated tremendous expansion of development frontiers and has caused environmental deteriorationin intact ecosystems across countries.

  According to Rockström et al. (2009), of nine categories of global environmental issues that were defined according to biophysical processes, three issues, i.e.,climate change, rate of biodiversity loss and interference with the nitrogen cycle, have already transgressed a threshold of Earth’s capacity forself-regulation, beyond which there may be abrupt in non-linear changes and recover will be impossible.  There is no doubt that the three global environment issues (mentioned above) have been associated with continuous expansion and intensification of human activities of not only local populations but also of migrant populations in development frontiers, particularly, in tropical forests. Environmental impacts of the latter populations have increased drastically. Myers (2002) emphasizes that as many as 200 million people may become environment refugees due to catastrophic shift of planetary system, which may pose further pressureson the frontiers. UNDP launched several actions for the mitigation of the problem.

  Thereis the vicious cycle in development frontiers: migration is the fundamental cause of mal-adaptation, which leads to the deterioration of the environment;further migrations occur from that area. If we realized the increasing trend in number of migrants, it is crucial to break out the vicious cycle for avoiding catastrophic global environment issues, for reducing poverty, and for achieving human well-beings.

  A research project that tackles the issues for human mobility and global environmental problems is indispensable. Goal of our research project is to clarifythe dynamic equilibrium/disequilibrium of human ecosystems when they were perturbed by human mobility. To achieve this ultimate goal, we have four specific research objectives: (1) to investigate reality of human mobility in development frontiers by compiling case studies for mobility-environment issues; (2) to categorise human mobility cases by the causes and environmental consequences;(3) to clarify conditions (i.e., ecological, socio-cultural, political) with which migrant populations can harmonized with natural ecosystems; and (4) to provide the possible mitigation processes for human adaptations to each environment based on evaluation for substantial of human environment in the developmental frontiers.

○Progress and Results in 2009

  We will employ the research methods thathave been developed in the following disciplines: ecological anthropology,cultural anthropology, epidemiology, human ecology, eco-toxicology and landscape ecology. The methods have strength when they were applied to collect quantitative and basic data about the impact on the local environments causedby domestic and international human migrations in Southeast Asia, mainly inMalaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia has adopted the “trans-migrations policy”.The policy initiated development of rain-forested areas by active trans-migrants from areas (islands) that experienced natural disasters, politics instability, andpoverties. In contrast, Malaysia is a nation that has accepted number ofmigrants from foreign countries for the colonial and national development since the 19th century. We organized the research group as: (1) the groupfor classification of human mobility; (2) the group for case studies of human mobility; (3) the group for evaluating impact of human mobility on environment;(4) the group for generalization and advancement of mobility-environment studies. The aim of the group (1) is to classify the human mobility based on its causes and to investigate the possible relationships between human mobilityand global environmental problems, while the group (2) will provide case studies for migration networks, variety of resource uses and environment recognitions among the migrants. The group (3) will grasp the possible conditions for human adaptations to each environment based on evaluation for substantial of human environment in the developmental frontiers. Based on the work and outcomes analyzed by these three research groups, the group (4) will try to generalize all the results for further evaluation and feedback for each research group,and to advance dynamic equilibrium/disequilibrium between human mobility and human ecosystem in the environmental perturbation era.

○Project Members

SUDA Kazuhiro ( Hokkai-Gakuen University,Professor,General manager of the project )

KUCHIKURA Yukio ( Gifu University,Professor,Analysis of resource use and development )

NOBUTA Toshihiro ( National Museum of Ethnology,Associate Professor,Analysis of development )

ICHIKAWA Tetsu ( Rikkyo University,Research Assistant,Analysis of migration )

WATANABE Chiho ( University of Tokyo,Professor,Analyses of nutritional /chemical burden on human-environment system and its associated risk )

UMEZAKI Masahiro ( University of Tokyo,Associate Professor,Assessment of nutritional impact of migration )

INAOKA Tsukasa ( Saga University,Professor,Assessment of migration-induced health transition )

OKUBO Satoru ( University of Tokyo,Assistant Professor,Landscape ecological assessment )

TAWA Masataka ( Kwansei Gakuin University,Professor,Geographical analysis of Cambodian fishers in West Malaysia )

NISHITANI Masaru ( National Museum of History,Associate Professor,Historical analysis of migrants in Indonesia )

IIDA Taku ( National Museum of Ethnology,Associate Professor,Anthropological analysis of Malay fishers in West Malaysia )

ODANI Shingo ( Chiba University,Associate Professor,Anthropological analysis of Orang Asli in West Malaysia )

RAMLE bin Abdullah ( Malaysia Darul Iman University,Senior Lecturer,Anthropological analysis of Orang Asli in West Malaysia )

○Future Themes

   We encountered several problems about (1) logistic reasons for selection of fieldwork location; (2) size of our research grope;(3) the exact methods for evaluating the possible affect of human mobility on environment.  In terms of possible solutions for these problems, we changed our research design and project goal dramatically and suggest as follows; (1) we found Indonesia and Malaysia are one of the most potential research fields for this project as deforesting of tropical rain forest and various types of migrants and exile population are increasing; (2) we newly made four research groups as discussed above and also added two more scholars who majoring migrant study and development anthropology; and (3) we divide any disturbances of human ecosystem caused by human mobility into (A) direct influence and (B) in-direct influence, and are planning to conduct landscape-ecology or epidemiological investigations to evaluate the micro-level of nutrition intake, eco-toxicology and soil contamination in relation to the macro-level of global environment problems such as deforesting of rain forest.



Nobuta, T. 2008 Living on the periphery: Development and islamization among the Orang Asli. Kyoto University Press & Trans Pacific Press, Kyoto & Melbourne


Abdoellah, O.S., Hadikusumah, H.Y., Takeuchi, K., Okubo, S., Parikesit 2006 Commercialisation of homegarden in Indonesian village: Compositional and functional changes. Kumar, B.M, Nair, P.K.R. (ed.) Tropical homegardens: A time tested example of sustainable agroforestry. Advances in Agroforestry, 3. Springer-Verlag, Dordrecht, pp.233-250.

Ichikawa, T. 2008 Community as crossroad of human mobility: Chinese migration in Papua New Guinea. Centre for Migration and Acculturation Studies (ed.) International migration and acculturation. Harvest, Tokyo, pp.204-219. (in Japanese)

Nobuta, T. 2009 Urbanization and indigenous people: Development among the Orang Asli, Malaysia. Goda, Toh (ed.) Urbanization and Formation of Ethnicity in Southeast Asia. New Day Publishers, Quezon City, Philippines, pp.100-115.

Takeuchi, K., Tanaka, M., Okubo, S. 1998 Syokuryō-mondai to chikyū-kankyō. Takeuchi, K., Tanaka, M. (ed.) Seibutsu-sigen no jizokuteki-riyō. Chikyū-kankyō-gaku, 6. Iwanami Shoten, Tokyo, pp.1-22. (in Japanese)

Ramle bin Abdullah, K. SUDA 2009 Penerimaan Pembangunan Dalam Kalangan Suku Kaum bateq di Kuala koh, Kelantan. Abdul Razaq Ahmad and Zalizan Mohd Jelas (ed.) Masyarakat Orang Asli: Perspektif Pendidikan dan Sosiobudaya. UKM Press, Bangi, Malaysia. (Other)

Suda, K. 2007 A time allocation study on subsistence activities on the Batek in Terengganu. Daud, M.Z. et al. (ed.) Orang Asli Negeri Terengganu: Warisan dan Pembangunan. Malaysia Darul Iman University Press, Terengganu, Malaysia, pp.71-77.

Umezaki, M. Adaptive strategies of Huli migrant settlers. Goddard, M. (ed.) Villagers in the city: Melanesian experiences of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Sean Kingston Press.(in press)


【Editing / Co-editing】

Nobuta, T., Masaki, K. (ed.) 2009 Anthropology of Development in South and Southeast Asia. Akashi Shoten, Tokyo, (in Japanese)


【Original Articles】

Ichikawa, T. 2007 Unities and diversities reflected in Chinese subethnicity. Journal of Chinese Overseas Studies 4 :69-80. (in Japanese)

Ichikawa, T. 2005 Urban redevelopment project and Chinese cemetery in Malaysia: A case study on controversies about preservation of Chinese cemeteries in Melaka and Kuala Lumpur. Shi’en 65(2) :29-54. (in Japanese)

Ichikawa, T. 2004 Malaysian Chinese migration to Papua New Guinea and their transnational network. The Journal of Malaysian Chinese Studies 6 :99-113.

Okubo, S., Takeuchi, K., Chakranon, B., Jongskul, A. 2003 Land characteristics and plant resources in relation to agricultural land-use planning in a Humid Tropical strand plain, Southeastern Thailand. Landscape and Urban Planning 65 :133-148.

Osawa, S., Okubo, S., Kusumoto, Y., Mineta, T. 2008 A new paradigm for conserving biodiversity at the fields of rural planning for future. Journal of Rural Planning Association 27 :14-19. (in Japanese)

Abdoellah, O.S., Hadikusumah, H.Y., Takeuchi, K., Okubo, S., Parikesit. 2006 Commercialisation of homegarden in Indonesian village: Compositional and functional changes. Agroforesry Systems 68 :1-13.

Suda, K. 2009 An ecological anthropological study on regional development and its impacts on the Orang Asli communities in Terengganu, Malaysia. Bulletin of Faculty of Humanities, Hokkai-Gakuen University 42 :161-184. (in Japanese)

Umezaki, M., Ohtsuka, R. 2003 Adaptive strategies of Highlands-origin migrant settlers in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Human Ecology 31 :3-25.

Furusawa, T., Pahari, K., Umezaki, M., Ohtsuka, R. 2004 Impact of selective logging on New Georgia Island, Solomon Islands evaluated using very-high-resolution satellite (IKONOS) data. Environmental Conservation 31 :349-355.

Fukuyama, S., Watanabe, C., Umezaki, M., Ohtsuka, R. 2009 Twenty years' demographic change in sedentes and migrants of an international migrant-sending community in Tonga. Journal of Biosocial Science 41 :77-87.

Research Presentations

【Oral Presentation】

Ichikawa, T. Natural resources and international migration: Malaysian Chinese community in Papua New Guinea. International Conference “Society for East Asian Anthropology & Taiwan Society for Anthropology and Ethnology 2009 Conference”, Jul 05,2009, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.

Suda, K. An ecological anthropological study on regional development and its impacts on the Orang Asli communities in Terengganu, Malaysia. Persidangan Perdana Pribumi Malaysia, Oct 24,2008, Malaysia Darul Iman University, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia.