Highlighting Collective Movements

Synecoculture™ and Augmented Ecosystems


Synecoculture™ and Augmented Ecosystems

©︎Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.

​​​​Synecoculture shifts food production, which accounts for most of the loss of biodiversity, from a small scale to an activity that builds up the entire ecosystem.

Without the use of any plowing, fertilizers or agricultural chemicals, hundreds of species of useful plants are planted together in a dense mixture and grow by utilizing the self-organizing power of the ecosystem. In this way, human activities actively intervene to achieve biodiversity and ecosystem functions beyond the natural state.

Synecoculture and augmented ecosystems are more effective in environments where conventional monoculture is difficult. In a demonstration project in West Africa, Synecoculture succeeded in restoring forest ecosystems on hard, desertified land in one year. In addition to food production and desert greening, augmented ecosystems are also expected to provide solutions to problems such as job creation, improved nutrition and increased public safety. We are now working on creating an educational platform to enhance ecological literacy.


©︎Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.

Inspired by the idea of Synecoculture as food production, based on the self-organization of ecosystems as open complex systems. This led to a propose paradigm shift, from the physiological optimum focused on individual plants to the ecological optimum for the ecosystem as a whole. Began to build an academic foundation and develop information and communication technologies to support the practice. A series of research activities, popularized as augmented ecosystems, have been published as scientific papers in a Nature Research journal.


©︎Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.

Started experimenting with Synecoculture in Burkina Faso, West Africa, with a local NGO. Planted 150 kinds of useful plants in desertified land, which took root without dying even in the dry season and greened the land to be like a tropical jungle within a year. Based on the success of this experiment, five international symposiums have been held, and the project received an ECOWAS grant through a Call for Proposals for the Agro-ecological Transition Support Project (PATAE) in Mali, and has been introduced into the national project of the New Coronavirus Relief Fund in Togo.


Established Synecoculture Association. With researchers and instructors with backgrounds in biology, complex systems, information science, agriculture, design and curation, the organization conducts research and dissemination activities in a variety of fields, including food production, education, urban planning, living space and care and welfare.


©︎Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.

Launched an urban proof-of-concept trial in the rooftop gardens at Roppongi Hills to test the introduction of Synecoculture and Augmented Ecosystems. The large planters set up were mainly for vegetables and fruit trees, with about 100 species of plants around them, and over 200 species of useful plants in the soil of the rooftop garden. Based on the Synecoculture proof-of-concept trial and the implementation of augmented ecosystems in urban spaces, we produced a Synecoculture principles learning kit. Contributed the article “Meta-Metabolism Manifesto” to hito-wa-asu-douikiruka [How People Will Live Tomorrow] (NTT Publishing), published in the same year.


SynecO, Inc. was established with the support of Sony’s first environmental fund to promote the social implementation of Augmented Ecosystems such as Synecoculture. With the vision of Living with All Life Together, the company aims to contribute to sustainable food production, green infrastructure in urban areas to adapt to climate change, education for the next generation, and health and social services, including the environment, by shifting to economic activities that include the reproduction of natural capital.

Director’s comment

​​We may have deviated from the ecosystem we should have, but can we become a part of the earth again? The success or failure of this may depend on the future of agriculture. We have already reached the limit of the efficiency of monoculture farming, and if we continue in this way, we may end up destroying the global environment. FUNABASHI Masatoshi advocates a way to restore a sustainable world in which diverse plants and microorganisms can compete and coexist to maximize their growth. FUNABASHI, who studied in Tokyo and Paris, has established associations and social enterprises, in addition to demonstrations in developing countries and at various sites, including a rooftop garden in Tokyo, to expand the community and contribute to natural-social common capital. (TOMURA Asako)



Senior Researcher, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.

President of SynecO, Inc.

Founder and President of Synecoculture Association

​​Born in 1979. FUNABASHI studied biology and complexity science at the University of Tokyo, then obtained his PhD in physics from CREA, Ecole Polytechnique, France. He is a licensed veterinarian. His goal is to establish a new approach to food production, which he calls Synecoculture, symbiotic agricultural methods based on biodiversity, since agriculture is an area where sustainability, environmental and human health issues overlap. He hopes to develop this into a new paradigm capable of restoring both human societies and ecosystems. He also applies the principles of Synecoculture to living areas and urban spaces as he endeavors to deploy augmented ecosystems to promote biodiversity and to maximize the potential of multiple ecosystem services.

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