The island of wood

The island of wood

Japan, with a 68.5% of the forested land,[1] it is not lacking the raw resource of timber. It can be seen that Japan’s forestry stock is still expanding while remaining underutilized. The self-sufficiency ratio of wood was 31.2% in 2014, exceeding 30% for the first time in 26 years. [2] However the Current State of Japanese Forestry Industry in Japan has been stagnant due to its low profitability primarily arising from difficulties in harvesting mountainous regions.

 

Listed under the Annual 2014 Report on Forest and Forestry in Japan by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), numerous issues holding back the wood industry have been identified.  Some of the mains reasons of low productivity of forestry activities are due to, structural characteristics of small-scaled forest ownership dominance, low level of coordination and consolidation of forestry practice, under-development of forestry road networks, insufficient introduction of efficient log production systems and depopulation in rural forest areas.[3]
However to combat these identified hindrances, the Government established set plans for expanding Wood Supply Capacity to include initiatives such as the:

 

  • Promotion of harvesting of matured planted forests and thinning
  • Introduction of Efficient Log Production System for steep mountains
  • Rationalizing of distribution systems from log production sites to lumber mills.
  • Promoting “coordination and consolidation of forestry practices”
  • “Green Employment Programme” to help forestry workers cultivate techniques
  • Development of Forestry Road Network Road for stable wood distribution

 

Japan’s forested land equates to approximately 4.9 billion m3 of forest stock [Figure 28].  More importantly, 51% of this stock has matured [Figure 29]and  is ready for harvesting.  Harvesting and replanting is an essential part of forestry care with numerous benefits.  Landowners generally replant as quickly as possible after harvest to start the new forest growing again.[4]  Keeping the forest healthy through thinning and replanting is beneficial to the environment therefore it is important to create a domestic demand for wood and not just through exports.    Cutting down mature trees encourages strong root development of remaining trees while aiding the weather-resistance of the forest from strong winds and heavy rains. [5]
Thinning also allows forest canopies to open up more allowing sunlight to reach lower levels, boosting undergrowth which in turn reduces soil erosion.  Biodiversity is advanced through the growth of various plants and the animals drawn to this environment.

 

 

 

 

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015”
[2] Forest Agency. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan “Annual Report on Forest and Forestry in Japan.”
[3] Forest Agency. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan “Annual Report on Forest and Forestry in Japan.”
[4] Sustainable forestry http://www.forestsandfish.com/sustainable/
[5] Forest Agency. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan “Annual Report on Forest and Forestry in Japan.”


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