V. Promotion of Reform in National Forest Management
1. Roles of National Forest Management
National forests cover about 20% of Japan's land area and about 30% of the entire forest area. Large portion of the national forests are located in the mountain ranges or upstream water reservoir areas. They are playing an important role in fulfilling the public functions of forests.
In order to fulfill the roles that the national forests are expected to play, the following are being promoted: prevention of landslides, which jeopardize people's lives and properties, mitigation of floods, conservation of precious natural environment, supply of forest products that are rarely supplied from private forests, management as forest carbon-sinks to mitigate global warming, and provision of fields necessary for forest environmental education.
2. Activities to Create a "National Forest"
Natural forests are classified into "forests for water and soil conservation," "forests for the people" and "forests for cyclical use of forest resources," and forest management is conducted in accordance with these classifications.
For the purpose of protecting and conserving the forest ecosystem, National Forest Management has been designating new protected forests and establishing "Green Corridors" that connect protected forests, thereby ensuring migration routes for animals, in coordination with private forests. In FY 2001, three "Green Corridors," covering 90 thousand hectares, were newly established.
As measures to mitigate global warming, creation of healthy and vital forests has been promoted as well as the use of wood materials in construction work relating to forests.
The creation of "Koji no Mori (folklore forest)" has been promoted with the participation of civil society, aiming to supply long, large-diameter timber, which is necessary to repair and restore historical wooden buildings.
"Yuu Yuu no Mori (relaxing forest)" was established in FY 2002. This program enables schools, for example, to conduct experience-based activities within national forests by concluding an agreement with the District Forest Office
Forest management activities and forestry vitalization activities have been promoted in cooperation with private sectors, for example, by signing a memorandum concerning forest management between the prefectural governor and the Director of the Regional Forest Office.
3. Promotion of Reform
It has been promoted to entrust forest management operations to the private sector. The share of entrusted operation in logging, reforestation, and weeding/brushing was 95%, 79% and 89% respectively in FY 2001, having increased from the previous fiscal year.