II. Forest Management and Revitalization of Mountain Villages
1. Toward Mitigation of Global Warming and Conservation of Biological Diversity
At the 3rd Session of the Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1997, Japan committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission during the period from 2008 to 2012 by 6% from the emission level in 1990. Concerning this commitment, while forests were regarded as sinks, the amount of GHG removals by forests was limited to 13 million carbon tons (approximately 3.9% of Japan's GHG emission in 1990).
In December 2002, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) formulated the "10 Years Action Plan on the Mitigation of Global Warming by Forest Carbon-sink," which includes a series of programs up to 2012, to secure the maximum amount of GHG removals by forests.
The "National Strategy of Japan on Biological Diversity" was revised in March 2002. It recognized importance to conserve immediate nature as well as indigenous nature and rare animals and plants, to create conifer-broadleaf mixed forests, and to promote appropriate forest management such as thinning.
2. Promotion of Forest Management to Fulfill the Multifunctional Roles of Forests
It is necessary to diversify forests by promoting practices for multi-storied forests and/or long-term-harvest-rotation forests, and introducing broadleaf trees, etc., mainly at the forests of which multifunctional roles must be highly fulfilled.
The area of the protection forests designated to fulfill public functions has reached 9.05 million ha (9.69 million ha in total) as of the end of FY 2001, accounting for 40% of Japan's forests.
Under collaboration of upstream (forest) communities with downstream ones, people from wide range of sectors have joined to forest management activities such as planting and thinning. In recent years, the fishery sector has briskly joined to forest management activities, and they conducted such activities at 137 sites nationwide in FY 2001.
In response to the introduction of the Comprehensive Five-day School Week System in FY 2002, education on forest and environment has been actively promoted.
3. Expected Roles of Mountain Villages
Many mountain villages maintain their function as settlements with a small number of households. More than half of these villages are consisted by less than 30 households. Decrease in the number of households may lead to degradation of villages' function as settlements.
Since communities in mountain villages have accumulated know-how to utilize bountiful local resources, including forests, effectively and in multi-stages, they may provide a model of the sustainable social system.