JDR Vol.17 No.3 pp. 453-463
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2022.p0453

Survey Report:

A CHANS Approach to Investigating Post-Disaster Recovery Potential in Rural Japan

Jessica Ann Diehl*,†, Kazuo Asahiro**, Yun Hye Hwang*, Taiga Hirashima**, Lingchang Kong*, Zhe Wang*, Haomu Yao*, and Puay Yok Tan*

*Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore
4 Architecture Drive, Singapore 117566, Singapore

Corresponding author

**Department of Environmental Design, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

May 24, 2021
December 3, 2021
April 1, 2022
coupled human and natural systems (CHANS), urban–rural linkages, post-disaster recovery, social and physical vulnerability, rural Japan

Natural disaster recovery is a critical issue in rural Japan, yet repairing infrastructure, stabilising landscapes, and aiding those displaced is exceedingly expensive. Restoration of disaster affected landscapes mainly focuses on infrastructure repair, with less attention to socio-ecological activities pre- and post-disaster. The absence of integrated socio-ecological perspectives to disaster restoration creates missed opportunities for approaches more sensitive to local needs and resources. Coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) frameworks attempt to bridge social and natural sciences with the effect that interactions between human and natural systems can emerge that might not be apparent by studying them separately. However, application of CHANS frameworks in the context of natural disaster recovery in rural Japan is limited, and more consideration of the challenges is needed. The aim of this paper is to describe the design of a CHANS project and summarize lessons learned in applying this complex framework. The CHANS project comprised four graduate student projects investigating different topics related to landslide recovery and future disaster vulnerability after the Northern Kyushu Heavy Rainfall in July 2012 event in rural Japan. For lessons learned, we suggest CHANS projects to be designed as a nested hierarchy of research questions, aims, objectives, and hypotheses to enable deeper synthesis at a higher level. Despite limitations in the design of our CHANS project, triangulation of data enabled us to conclude meaningful findings. When faced with limited resources, it is impossible to design a complex study accounting for all relevant factors, but a CHANS approach can enable integrated socio-ecological insights and foster innovative solutions for improving resource management and cost-effectiveness of disaster recovery plans.

Cite this article as:
J. Diehl, K. Asahiro, Y. Hwang, T. Hirashima, L. Kong, Z. Wang, H. Yao, and P. Tan, “A CHANS Approach to Investigating Post-Disaster Recovery Potential in Rural Japan,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.17 No.3, pp. 453-463, 2022.
Data files:
  1. [1] H. Yoshimatsu and S. Abe, “A review of landslide hazards in Japan and assessment of their susceptibility using an analytical hierarchic process (AHP) method,” Landslides, Vol.3, No.2, pp. 149-158, 2006.
  2. [2] H. Saito, D. Nakayama, and H. Matsuyama, “Relationship between the initiation of a shallow landslide and rainfall intensity – duration thresholds in Japan,” Geomorphology, Vol.118, No.1-2, pp. 167-175, 2010.
  3. [3] Japan Data, “Preparing for Japan’s Inevitable Landslides,”, September 3, 2018, [accessed September 3, 2018]
  4. [4] K. Asahiro, M. Tani, and H. Kanekiyo, “Support for farmland restoration through mutual assistance after flood disasters in Hilly and Mountainous areas – Cases of the cities of Yame and Ukiha affected by the torrential rainfall in Northern Kyushu in July 2012 –,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.10, No.5, pp. 794-806, doi: 10.20965/jdr.2015.p0794, 2015.
  5. [5] C. Veder, “Landslides and their stabilization,” Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.
  6. [6] K. Maxwell, “A coupled human-natural systems framework of community resilience,” J. of Natural Resources Policy Research, Vol.8, pp. 110-130, 2018.
  7. [7] D. B. Kramer, J. Hartter, A. E. Boag et al., “Top 40 questions in coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) research,” Ecology and Society, Vol.22, No.2, Article No.44, 2017.
  8. [8] R. F. B. da Silva, M. D. A. Rodrigues, S. A. Vieira, M. Batistella, and J. Farinaci, “Perspectives for environmental conservation and ecosystem services on coupled rural–urban systems,” Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation, Vol.15, No.2, pp. 74-81, 2017.
  9. [9] J. Liu, T. Dietz, S. R. Carpenter et al., “Coupled human and natural systems,” AMBIO: A J. of the Human Environment, Vol.36, No.8, pp. 639-49, 2007.
  10. [10] M. Alberti, H. Asbjornsen, L. A. Baker et al., “Research on coupled human and natural systems (CHANS): approach, challenges, and strategies,” The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, Vol.92, No.2, pp. 218-228, 2011.
  11. [11] J. Liu, T. Dietz, S. R. Carpenter et al., “Complexity of coupled human and natural systems,” Science, Vol.317, No.5844, pp. 1513-1516, 2007.
  12. [12] S. Yuliana, Y. Yunisvita, A. Yulianita, N. T. Muhyiddin, and A. Bashir, “The Linkage of Human and Money Flows to Rural-Urban Fringe Poverty in South Sumatra, Indonesia: In an Islamic Perspective,” Int. J. of Economics and Financial Issues, Vol.7, No.4, pp. 237-243, 2017.
  13. [13] P. Matanle, “Ageing and Depopulation in Japan: Understanding the Consequences for East and Southeast Asia in the 21st Century,” H. Dobson (Ed.), “East Asia in 2013: A Region in Transition, White Rose East Asia Centre and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Briefing Papers,” pp. 30-35, 2014.
  14. [14] L. An, A. Zvoleff, J. Liu, and W. Axinn, “Agent-based modeling in coupled human and natural systems (CHANS): lessons from a comparative analysis,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol.104, No.4, pp. 723-45, 2014.
  15. [15] J. Liu, “Integration across a metacoupled world,” Ecology and Society, Vol.22, No.4, 2017.
  16. [16] K. Forbes and J. Broadhead, “Forests and landslides: The role of trees and forests in the prevention of landslides and rehabilitation of landslide-affected areas in Asia,” Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 2011.
  17. [17] H. Yang, F. Wang, V. Vilímek, K. Araiba, and S. Asano, “Investigation of rainfall-induced shallow landslides on the northeastern rim of Aso caldera, Japan, in July 2012,” Geoenvironmental Disasters, Vol.2, No.1, Article No.20, 2015.
  18. [18] K. Nagashima, S. Yoshida, and T. Hosaka, “Patterns and factors in early-stage vegetation recovery at abandoned plantation clearcut sites in Oita, Japan: possible indicators for evaluating vegetation status,” J. of Forest Research, Vol.14, No.3, pp. 135-146, 2009.
  19. [19] H. Yamagawa, S. Ito, K. Sakuta, N. Mizoue, and T. Nakao, “Effects of small-scale clearcutting management on species diversity and vertical structure of understory vegetation of a conifer plantation comprising uneven-aged stands, in Kyushu, Southern Japan,” J. of the Japanese Forest Society, Vol.91, No.4, pp. 277-284, 2009 (in Japanese).
  20. [20] D. P. Coduto, “Geotechnical engineering: principles and practices,” Prentice Hall, 1999.
  21. [21] J. A. R. Ortigao and A. Sayao (Eds.), “Handbook of slope stabilisation,” Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.
  22. [22] W. Goldsmith, D. Gray, and J. McCullah, “Bioengineering case studies: Sustainable stream bank and slope stabilization,” Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.
  23. [23] L. Wortley, J. M. Hero, and M. Howes, “Evaluating ecological restoration success: A review of the literature,” Restoration Ecology, Vol.21, No.5, pp. 537-543, 2013.
  24. [24] N. Furuta and Y. Shimatani, “Integrating ecological perspectives into engineering practices–Perspectives and lessons from Japan,” Int. J. of Disaster Risk Reduction, Vol.32, pp. 87-94, 2018.
  25. [25] W. J. Mitsch and S. E. Jørgensen, “Ecological engineering: a field whose time has come,” Ecological Engineering, Vol.20, No.5, pp. 363-77, 2003.
  26. [26] W. J. Mitsch, “What is ecological engineering?,” Ecological Engineering, Vol.45, pp. 5-12, 2012.
  27. [27] J. E. Norris, A. Di Iorio, A. Stokes, B. C. Nicoll, and A. Achim, “Species selection for soil reinforcement and protection,” J. E. Norris et al. (Eds.), “Slope stability and erosion control: ecotechnological solutions,” pp. 167-210, Springer, 2008.
  28. [28] Y. P. Dhital, R. B. Kayastha, and J. Shi, “Soil bioengineering application and practices in Nepal,” Environmental Management, Vol.51, No.2, pp. 354-364, 2013.
  29. [29] P. Peduzzi, “Landslides and vegetation cover in the 2005 North Pakistan earthquake: a GIS and statistical quantitative approach,” Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Vol.10, No.4, pp. 623-640, 2010.
  30. [30] C. Franks, “Characteristics of some rainfall-induced landslides on natural slopes, Lantau Island, Hong Kong,” Quarterly J. of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, Vol.32, No.3, pp. 247-259, 1999.
  31. [31] F. Dai, C. Lee, J. Li, and Z. Xu, “Assessment of landslide susceptibility on the natural terrain of Lantau Island, Hong Kong,” Environmental Geology, Vol.40, No.3, pp. 381-391, 2001.
  32. [32] J. C. Bathurst, C. I. Bovolo, and F. Cisneros, “Modelling the effect of forest cover on shallow landslides at the river basin scale,” Ecological Engineering, Vol.36, No.3, pp. 317-327, 2010.
  33. [33] L. Dorren, F. Berger, and U. Putters, “Real-size experiments and 3-D simulation of rockfall on forested and non-forested slopes,” Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, Vol.6, No.1, pp. 145-153, 2006.
  34. [34] J. Gerrard and R. Gardner, “Relationships between landsliding and land use in the Likhu Khola drainage basin, Middle Hills, Nepal,” Mountain Research and Development, Vol.22, No.1, pp. 48-55, 2002.
  35. [35] D. Greenway, “Vegetation and slope stability,” M. G. Anderson and K. S. Richards (Eds), “Slope stability: Geotechnical engineering and geomorphology,” Wiley, 1987.
  36. [36] R. Steinacher, G. Medicus, W. Fellin, and C. Zangerl, “The Influence of Deforestation on Slope (In-) Stability,” Austrian J. of Earth Sciences, Vol.102, No.2, pp. 90-99, 2009.
  37. [37] D. H. Gray, and A. T. Leiser, “Biotechnical slope protection and erosion control,” Van Nostrand Reinhold Company Inc., 1982.
  38. [38] S. M. Philpott, B. B. Lin, S. Jha, and S. J. Brines, “A multi-scale assessment of hurricane impacts on agricultural landscapes based on land use and topographic features,” Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, Vol.128, No.1-2, pp. 12-20, 2008.
  39. [39] K. Forbes, J. Broadhead, A. D. Brardinoni, D. Gray, and B. V. Stokes, “Forests and landslides: The role of trees and forests in the prevention of landslides and rehabilitation of landslide-affected areas in Asia,” 2nd edition, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 2013.
  40. [40] A. C. Monmany, M. Yu, C. Restrepo, and J. K. Zimmerman, “How are landscape complexity and vegetation structure related across an agricultural frontier in the subtropical Chaco, NW Argentina?,” J. of Arid Environments, Vol.123, pp. 12-20, 2015.
  41. [41] P. Wirth, V. Elis, B. Müller, and K. Yamamoto, “Peripheralisation of small towns in Germany and Japan – Dealing with economic decline and population loss,” J. of Rural Studies, Vol.47, pp. 62-75, 2016.
  42. [42] K. A. McClinchey and B. A. Carmichael, “Countryside capital, changing rural landscapes, and rural tourism implications in Mennonite country,” J. of Rural and Community Development, Vol.5, No.1, 2010.
  43. [43] T. C. Tao and G. Wall, “A livelihood approach to sustainability,” Asia Pacific J. of Tourism Research, Vol.14, No.2, pp. 137-152, 2009.
  44. [44] S. Haeseler, “Heavy Rains on Kyushu/Japan in July 2012,” Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), 2012, [accessed September 1, 2018]
  45. [45] N. Kachi, R. Kajimoto, K. Tsukahara, and Y. Akiyama, “Consideration on disaster recovery system to improve resilience of frequent-landslide dangerous area,” Procedia, Vol.218, pp. 181-190, 2016.

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera.

Last updated on May. 19, 2024