Creative exchange between diverse industries to save forestry in Japan

The Japanese government is tackling both domestic and international measures to restore forestry and to change it into a growth industry. The Forestry Agency runs a new-employment training project called “Midori-no-koyou (Green Employment)”, in order to increase the number of forestry-engaged people. Also, the Agency is promoting measures for making improvements to reduce regeneration and trending costs as well as improving productivity. Although these efforts are gradually revitalizing Japanese forestry, more ideas are necessary to make innovation happen.

Sustainable Forest Action (SFA) is a project that aims to bring new ideas to life for revitalizing and solving problems in the forestry industry. SFA called for players to participate in a collaborative innovation program that matches people from various industries to work together with forestry related workers for creating new ideas to tackle issues related to forestry.

Such collaborative innovation network benefits forestry workers by providing access to different and fresh perspectives, knowledge and resources. In addition, because players have various professions and backgrounds, marketing and distribution can also be operated efficiently. The kickoff event took place in Tokyo this September with much enthusiasm. This platform is expected to create innovation for achieving a sustainable forestry in Japan.

Two-thirds of Japan’s land is covered with forests. This is approximately 25 million hectares of land, and 40% of these forests are planted forests.

During the Meiji era in Japan, tons of trees were cut down to manufacture industrial materials. The Japanese government established the “Forest Act” in 1897 and the “National Forest Act” in 1899 to recover forests and to accelerate the planting of trees for the purpose of wood production.

Now, more than half of these planted forests are ready for harvest. However, despite the efforts to produce wood, forest resources are not fully used today for several reasons. The decreasing number of forestry workers, increase in the share of aged forestry workers, lack of motivation due to little profit, low level of coordination and consolidation of forestry practices especially in small-scale forest owners, and under-development of the forestry road networks.

Forestry management is, however, extremely important for several reasons. Forests do not only provide various products that are essential to our every day lives, but they have functions such as land conservation, watershed conservation, prevention of global warming and conserving habitat for wildlife.

A few years ago, heavy rainfall lead to slope failure in some areas of Japan and triggered flood-wood rushing that caused severe damage to houses, roads and rice fields as well as taking a heavy toll of lives. Replanting of trees and forestry management is crucial for preventing such unpredictable natural disasters. Also, sustainable forest management is an important element to achieve SDGs, since multiple functions of forests can prevent global warming.

[Reference] Sustainable Forest Action Homepage
[Reference] Annual Report on Forest and Forestry in Japan
[Reference] NEWSWITCH

(This article was originally published on Zenbird Media.)

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