II. Forest Management and Conservation
1. Global Warming and the Role of the Forests
The concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by more than 30 percent since the time of the Industrial Revolution. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in the Third Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Kyoto, Japan, to indicate the reduction goals of the greenhouse gasses by each country. In the Protocol, Japan committed to reduce the emission of the greenhouse gasses by 6 percent from the base year.
Currently, under the g10 Year Action Plan on the Mitigation of Global Warming by Forest Carbon-sink,h measures are taken to ensure approximately 13 million carbon tons (3.9 percent of Japanfs greenhouse gasses emission in base year) of removal by the forests. It must be noted, however, that present level of readiness will result in a figure that is not even close to this goal. Need for steady promotion of measures to improve this situation have been pointed out. The Forest Policy Council, in fact, states that the measures should be promptly implemented with ensured source of financial support.
2.Forest Management and Conservation to bring out the Multifunctional Roles of Forests
In 2004, the natural disasters, such as heavy rainfall by the typhoons and the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake, brought about devastating damages to the mountain areas, causing over 250 billion yen worth of damages to the forests. Forest conservation activities are inevitable for prompt recovery of the damages as well as for prevention of further damages from future disasters.
Measures against pollinosis have been taken through production of seedlings of Japanese cedar (sugi) varieties that produce less pollens than conventional varieties. Supply systems of these seedlings have also been in preparation. Effective methods of selective cutting and thinning of cedar and other trees in planted forests are other measures that can contribute to the mitigation of pollinosis. It is also notable that the Forest Tree Breeding Center developed pollen-free cedar trees in January 2005.
3. Public Participation in Establishment of Forest and Forest Environment Education
In recent years, forest volunteer groups have been increasing their number and expanding their range of activities. Currently, their activities include not only forest maintenance but also forest environment education and other areas. This movement means that more support is required to further improve the techniques and safety regime. At the same time, public awareness of the necessity of forest management and conservation supported by the whole society should be raised through further promoting fund-raising drive gMidori no Bokin (Greenery Fund)h and establishment of forest activities by corporations and other private organizations.
4. Trend in World Forests and Roles of Japan
Forests in developing countries and regions have been being lost and degraded due to various causes including overexploitation, illegal logging and forest fires. This issue should not be considered as a problem merely for developing countries and regions, but should be treated in the whole picture of promoting sustainable forest managements in the world.