I. For the Sustainable Use of the Forests in the Coming Generations
1. Wtat are Needed for the Forests in Japan?@@@@@
] Planted forests are getting matured for use; establishment of forests invulnerable to natural disasters is needed ]@@
The fiscal year 2004 witnessed frequent cases of disasters and damages in the mountain areas and forests caused by the events, such as typhoons, heavy rainfalls and earthquakes. In order to secure safe and comfortable life for the people in Japan, we must further promote the establishment of forests that are invulnerable to these natural disasters.
While the total area of the forests in Japan has essentially stayed unchanged since sometime around 1950, the accumulated growing stock has been increasing in a substantial manner,especially in the planted forests. The growing stock per hectare has reached 161 cubic meters, indicating that the forest resources of Japan are in the richest level in quantity at least for the recent half century.
When adequately managed, planted forests can fully perform their public functions. For example, they hold virtually the same levels of functions to prevent soil erosion and landslides as those of natural forests. Planted forests also play a great role in the mitigation of global warming, because they consist mainly of coniferous trees with high removal capacity for carbon dioxide.
Although there have been times in the past when forests faced devastated levels of degradation due to overharvesting at a higher rate than the forestsf capability of regeneration, the problem we are currently facing with the planted forests is the risk underperformance of their roles of public functions due to the undesirable cycle of cutting, planting and tending, which is the first case of such kinds in the history.
In regard to the forestsf public functions, the largest challenge we are facing is how to promote the appropriate way of management and conservation of the forests that have been planted so far, while taking into account that the forests are being matured enough to be used as wood resources.
2. Forestry and Mountain Villages as the Key Issues in the Forest Management and Conservation
] Maximizing Multifunctional roles of the forests through maintaining the vitality of forestry activities and mountain village communities ]
Forestry has a significant role in maintenance and improvement of the multifunctional roles of forests through its practices such as planting, tending and harvesting, and forest management.At the same time, forestry is an environmental-friendly industry which is based on the sustainable productivity of forest ecosystem.
Currently, the Japanese forestry is in a vicious circle of the sluggish domestic wood market, declining income for forestry management bodies, diminishing attractiveness of mountain village communities, decreasing business pursuit for cutting, tending and other forestry works, and declining supply of domestic wood. We have to solve each of these problems simultaneously while keeping steady efforts to improve the whole situation.