The aim of this paper is shown by two surveys about the actual state of conservation and utilization of Ramsar wetlands in Japan. The surveys were intended for local governments of Ramsar sites and for civic groups working at Ramsar sites. The main findings are as follows.
1) In many sites, there was not much awareness about the active use of wetlands although there was a high protection awareness for wetlands. Administrative staff in charge of Ramsar sites is restricted to a few persons, and in many cases, protection department officials have been occupied with other duties.
2) Wetlands have been used in tourism and recreation. After the registration, research and educational use has increased, and utilization for primary industry has decreased.
3) Water pollution and increasing alien species have been recognized as major problems.
4) Local governments are actively interacting with other Ramsar sites. As a means of publicity, they have created and distributed a variety of flyers and leaflets. In elementary and junior high schools, environmental education has been carried out on Ramsar wetlands actively.
5) Responses of civic groups and local governments answers on the recognition status of wetlands show the same tendency. However, for some answers differences were observed. For example, as a matter of concern, civic groups are more keenly aware of the impact of increased environmental load by tourists and watershed development.
6) The Ramsar sites in Japan contain wetlands of different characteristics. One type are wetlands which are intended to protect wild birds. In this type of wetlands, protected areas (specially protected area of wildlife protection and hunting law) have been newly set for the registration. Wetlands of this type have the following features. Much effort was required to obtain the local registration agreement. They have problems related to birds, such as avian influenza. They have water quality problems in lakes, too. And bird-watching tourism is also a characteristic of this type.