Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 11

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21

Chapter 11 COMBATING DEFORESTATION

The Present Conditions of and Problems Concerning Forests in Japan

Due to Japan's warm, humid climate and mountainous topography, 67%, or an approximate 25 million ha, of the national land is covered with forests, and Japan has maintained nearly the same high ratio of forestland over a long period of time.

As regards the conditions of forest resources, although total growing volume surpasses that of harvest and this volume is being securely replenished, 80% of the man-made forests in Japan, which account for 41% (10.33 million ha in 1990) of all the nation's forests, are made up of stands which are less than 35 years old, below the standard cutting age. Accordingly for the time being, sufficient care such as tending and thinning is necessary for those resources.

Meanwhile, the forestry and wood industries in Japan are facing difficult conditions such as stagnation of timber prices, difficulties in maintaining and obtaining a labor force for forestry, severe competition with non-wood products for construction use, and an increase in imported wood products. If these conditions continue, it is feared that forest owners will be less inclined to manage their forests and the appropriate maintenance and improvement of forests will be affected. It has therefore become an urgent task to reduce production costs through improving the wood processing and distribution system.

Under these circumstances, Japan has set up the following forest policies as long-term objectives; (i) proper management of various types of forests, as a primary source of "greenery and water," (ii) improvement of the conditions of the forestry production processing and distribution system to realize the economic value of forest resources.

To achieve these policy goals, various measures should be taken, such as introducing the "Forest Management System Based on River Basin" which efficiently promotes forest management and forestry production in both national and private forests for each major river basin so as to meet regional requirements with the concerned efforts of forestryexperts and the understanding and support of the general public. In addition, Japan will also promote activities that contribute to the conservation and sustainable management of the world's forests, including tropical forests.

Also, Japan will properly conserve primeval forms of nature which embrace well-maintained ecosystems, and areas of outstanding natural scenery and promote proper utilization of forests to meet people's needs for contacts with nature, such as nature observation and forest bathing.

11-A) Sustaining the Multiple Roles and Functions of All Types of Forests, Forest Lands and Woodlands

Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the below-mentioned items:

(1)
Strengthening administrative institutions and the appropriate operation of said institutions for the conservation and sustainable management of forests
(i)
Improving the efficiency of administrative institutions

In addition to improving the overall administrative ability of the national government by strengthening newly needed administrative institutions to deal with the sustainable development of forests and environmental conservation, Japan will improve the capabilities of local authorities, particularly the administrative ability of local authorities such as city, town and village offices, which are the administrative institutions most closely involved in actual activities concerning forests and forestry.
(ii)
Proper utilization of the system of forest planning, the system of forest conservation, and the system of approval for the development of forest lands

Guidance and supervision will be provided for forest owners, so that proper forest operations will be conducted according to the Nationwide Forest Plan, regional forest plans and municipal forest plans based on the "Basic Plan for Forest Resources" that is the basis for long term forest improvement activities. Concerning national forests, proper management will be conducted applying technologies suitable for improving each function of the following four categories of national forests, "Land conservation forests", "Nature conservation forests," "Recreation and Welfare forests" and "Timber production forests." They are categorized according to the particularly important function of each forest type, as set forth in the "National Forest Work Management Plan" which is formulated according to regional forest plans, and takes into account local people's opinions.
(iii)
An approximate one-third of the forests in Japan, which cover 8.33 million ha, and which are particularly beneficial to the public, have been designated as protected forests, and are regulated so that their functions will be maintained and improved, and in addition to further reinforcing this system, improvement activities will be promoted for forests which do not function sufficiently, by means of conducting afforestation and reforestation projects, and forest road improvement projects.
(iv)
In forests other than protected forests, proper and sufficient application of the Forest-land Development Permission System will be sought in private and public forests and similar treatment will be applied to national forests in order to avoid excessive development of forest land. By properly applying the Nature Conservation Law and the Natural Parks Law, Japan will properly conserve primeval forms of nature embracing well-maintained ecosystems, and areas of outstanding natural scenery.
(2)
Promoting forestry based on individual river basins, and fostering forest workers for the future
(i)
In order to contribute to the promotion of the "Forest Management System Based on River Basin," in addition to deliberately promoting the establishment of a River Basin Forestry Activation Council" in each river basin which consists of local authorities and people related to forestry and wood production processes and distribution, Japan will encourage the establishment of a "River Basin Forestry Service Center" in each river basin for improved management of forestry enterprisesand improvements in the working conditions of forest workers.
(ii)
In addition to strengthening organizations of forest owners' cooperatives through wide-ranging mergers, Japan will promote efficiency in forestry production activities, including the adoption of high-performance forestry machinery that is suited to the topographic conditions of Japan.
(3)
Promoting testing, research, and the dissemination of information and education concerning forests, forestry and the timber industry
(i)
Japan is committed to promoting testing and research concerning the maintenance and enhancement of the versatile functions of forests, ensuring sustainable management and furthering regional development through the appropriate management and use of forest resources, the effective use of wood products and the development of new uses for wood, and clarifying and utilizing the functions of forest creatures through biotechnology. Japan will also promote the spread of the technology and knowledge of regional forest owners and forestry research groups by strengthening the activities conducted by extension services, known as SPs, and Ads, who work in regions to provide guidance and advise.
(ii)
In order to further increase understanding among the general public as to the role and importance of forests and forestry, Japan will promote youth forest education and extension activities , including the functions of forests, the role of forestry, and the problems concerning tropical forests, by holding "Classes for Forestry" and conducting activities to provide people with opportunities to be actually engaged in forestry.
(4)
Creating forests with the participation of the general public
(i)
Besides replenishing the "National Fund for Greenery and Waters," which has been created for the purpose of steadily promoting the creation of greenery, including forests, and expanding a fund for creating forests in watersheds throughout Japan, through citizen cooperation between upper-watershed areas and lower-watershed areas, Japan will further promote the "Green Feather," a decades-old fund raising campaign for the greening of Japan, and will expand the use of funds. The expanded use of funds will support a wide range of activities including the creation of an environment in which people can live in close contact with nature such as forests and "Satoyama" (village forests) which used to be a part of local people's lives. Japan will promote opportunities for peoples to participate directly in forest creation through the "green ownership" system, which includes tree-planting activities, and other projects. For this reason, Japan will also develop forest and forestry education through various activities for public awareness such as "forestry for experience" and "Forest Classes".
(ii)
Japan will promote a profit sharing forestry system to give sufficient care to forests through the mutual cooperation of the public, the national government and local authorities.

11-B) Enhancing the Protection, Sustainable Management and Conservation of All Forests, and the Greening of Degraded Areas Through Forest Rehabilitation, Afforestation, Reforestation and other Rehabilitative Means

Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
Promoting improvement of forest resources

Based on the "Forest Improvement Investment Plan," newly established in 1992, Japan will promote the improvement of versatile and high-quality forests that can meet the needs of the general public, including such activities as promoting afforestation and forestry road networks in a well-planned manner. Concretely speaking, it will promote the following activities; (a) the promotion of such operations as reforestation, tending, and thinning, as well as multi-storied forests treatment, and prolonged cutting age treatment: (b) the promotion of tended natural forests, the improvement of forests as places for health-related, cultural and educational activities; (c) the formation of a network of forest roads in order to activate forestry; (d) sufficient investment to improve the living conditions in rural mountainous areas.

(2)
Promoting tree breeding

To secure precious forest genetic resources which are the basis of the improvement of forest resources, Japan will promote development of species with enhanced growing ability, and resistance against disease and insects, as well as the necessary technological development to achieve these goals.

(3)
Promoting erosion control and watershed management

In order to promote the creation of safe and comfortable national land, based on the Five-Year program of forest conservation works, Japan will take comprehensive anti-disaster measures in urban and other regions which are in great danger of landslides, conduct the improvement of forests as "green dams" in watershed areas, the improvement of forests which secure a good-quality water supply for everyday life in communities, the installation of "green belts" as wide open spaces for living and disaster prevention in areas surrounding cities, the improvement of forests which protect living conditions and cope with the recent increasing demand for environmental conservation, particularly that of precious natural areas and areas of scenic beauty. Japan will also improve watershed forests by means of profit sharing reforestation conducted by the Forest Development Corporations.

(4)
Conserving forest ecosystems

In order to conserve the natural environment, including the maintenance of primeval forest ecosystems, conserving plant and animal life, and preserving genetic resources, Nature Conservation Forests are established in natural forests in which the management method based on natural changes is applied. Among Nature Conservation Forests, forests that are of particular importance for nature conservationare designated as Forest Reserves, also including Forest Ecosystem Reserves and Forestry Woods Genetic Resources Reserves, and appropriate measures are applied to protect these forests. Japan will also promote work that contributes to the conservation and management of wild fauna and flora which live and breed in these forests.

Also, Japan will appropriately conserve the natural environment, by means of the appropriate application of the System of Nature Conservation Areas, which is based on the Nature Conservation Law, and of the System of National and Quasi National Parks, which is based on the Natural Parks Law.

Furthermore, in order to contribute to the conservation of these ecosystems, in addition to continuously conducting surveys and research regarding the natural environment produced by forests, and clarifying the types of animal and plant life which live in forests, Japan is collecting and accumulating data for the management of forest ecosystems, which includes identifying the distribution of this animal and plant life, and Japan will continue to promote these activities. Japan will also promote surveys, experimentation and research for the appropriate conservation of precious ecosystems.

(5)
Improvements in dealing with the protection of forests
(i)
In order to cope with damage by the pine nematode, which occurs at high frequency each year, in addition to conducting comprehensive protection measures for pine forests and restoring areas which have been damaged, Japan will promote activities to prevent and eliminate damage by disease and insects for all trees, including perforating damage by weevils of cedar and cypress trees, as well as activities to prevent and eliminate damage by animals.
(ii)
Efforts to prevent damage to forest land include the National Campaign to Prevent Forest Fires, forest patrols, improving the system for preventing and extinguishing forest fires, and promoting preventative activities among local people. Japan will also make improvements in forests which serve to stop the spread of fires, and construct fire prevention roads in forests.
(iii)
In order to get an early understanding of the effects of acid precipitation on forests, and devise the necessary countermeasures, Japan will conduct monitoring activities on the decline of forests caused by acid precipitation. Japan will also make efforts, based on the surveys and research on the mechanism of acid precipitation and the effect on forests, to establish technology for the sound preservation of forests, while coordinating these efforts with air protection measures to prevent adverse effects of acid precipitation.
(6)
Improving suburban and village forests (Satoyama)

In order to enhance the protection of living conditions and the function of forests for health recuperation, Japan will promote improvements of forest resources in the suburbs and in the areas surrounding villages, including the conservation of natural scenery, wide-ranging improvements in open spaces where people can relax and come in contact with nature, and reduction of pollen in the air.

(7)
Improving conservation activities by means of making forests part of the public domain, including the nationalization of forestsJapan will purchase forests that are particularly important for national land protection and encourage the purchase of endangered forests by prefectural governments.

Japan will also take economic assistance measures for promoting the acquisition of forests for the purpose of conserving and utilizing these forests as public facilities, including forest parks, to support regional development conducted by local authorities. These measures will also assist the acquisition of forests for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing the functions of these forests that are beneficial to the public.

11-C) Promoting Efficient Utilization and Assessment to Recover the Full Valuation of the Goods and Services Provided by Forests, Forest Lands and Woodlands

Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the below-mentioned items:

(1)
Assessing the functions of forests which are beneficial to the public

If the public functions of forests, including the development of water resources, the prevention of erosion, contribution to health recuperation, the conservation of wild fauna and flora, the provision of oxygen, and the purification of the air, are evaluated by converting them into procurement costs of alternative materials, their worth totals 39 trillion yen per year (8% of the GDP) as of 1991. In order to further conduct appropriate assessment, Japan will promote surveys and studies for improvements in assessment methods. It will also conduct activities for increasing public awareness in order to deepen the general public's understanding of forest functions.

(2)
Improving the system of providing timber, and promoting the effective use of timber
(i)
Regarding the utilization of domestic forest resources, Japan will promote improvements in central facilities for the regulated flow of quality products at low cost to meet the needs of consumers, as well as seeking cooperation among the processing sector, distributing sector and utilizing sector. Japan will also promote the rationalization of processing, including the conversion of raw materials and adding high value to products, to deal with such changes in the supply and demand structures as the decline of tropical forest resources and the increase of product imports.
(ii)
In order to promote the efficient use of timber, in addition to promoting the enhancement of the quality of wood products and the development of technology for recycling waste from wood products, Japan will also enhance the use of timber through the development of technology for utilizing the extracts of trees, technology for improving timber, including the thermoplastic wood and liquefaction of timber, and development of durable and versatile composite wood materials.
(3)
Stabilizing supply and demand of timber, and the efficient use of tropical timber
(i)
In addition to clarifying long-term outlooks for the supply and demand of timber, Japan will ensure the stable supply of timber that corresponds to demand by appropriately grasping short-term supply and demand trends of timber.
(ii)
Giving due consideration to the strategic objective of "trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed forest resources by the Year 2000," which was adopted by the ITTO, Japan will make efforts to properly use tropical timber in accordance with the "Three Principles on Tropical Timber Trade," which are: (i) monitoring of trade in tropical timber; (ii) increasing value added of tropical forest products; (iii) rationalizing consumption of tropical timber.
(4)
Accelerating the production of non-wood forest products, and promoting the comprehensive use of forests, with due consideration given to forest conservation
(i)
In order to contribute to the activation of rural mountainous areas utilizing forest resources, Japan will develop the production of non-wood forest products such as mushrooms and accelerate improvements in facilities for their development, processing and distribution, and improve the conditions of places that contribute to health recuperation, recreational activities, and educational and cultural activities. Japan will also promote improvements in facilities used for exchanges between urban and mountainous rural areas.
(ii)
On national forest land, giving due consideration to the conservation of forest ecosystems, Japan will promote the establishment of recreational forests, improvements in places where people can come in contact with nature, places to conduct educational activities for youth, places where people can participate in forestry, and it will work to provide the general public with living spaces which are abundant in greenery.
(iii)
In addition to giving sufficient consideration to the effect on the natural environment by the installation of facilities in natural parks, and through the use of these facilities by the general public, Japan will promote the use of natural parks in a manner which reduces the burden on nature.

11-D) Establishing and/or Strengthening Capacities for the Planning, Assessment and Systematic Observations of Forests, and Related Programs, Projects and Activities, Including Commercial Trade and Processes

Presently, the conditions of forest resources are periodically reviewed at the same time that national forest plans are formulated.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
Giving due consideration to the importance of qualitative information on forests and international trends towards unified resource surveys, Japan will develop a system of forest resources surveys for the purpose of gaining a systematic understanding of the conditions of forest resources. Japan will also promote improvements in the comprehensive database for forests, including map-related information, in order to contribute to the assessment of the versatile functions of forests.

11-E) Reinforcing International Cooperation

In addition to playing an important role in environmental conservation, such as by retarding global warming through absorption and fixation of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and by conserving biodiversity, forests provide mankind with an important economic resource, and also form the foundation of regional society, playing such roles as that of conserving of the national land, enhancing water resources, and conserving the soil. Since forests have such important functions, and deforestation and forest degradation are under way, it is becoming an extremely important task for Japan to promote the effective use of timber, including efforts toward paper recycling and enhanced durability of wooden houses. It is also important to improve international cooperation for the sustainable management of forests ranging from the tropics to boreal zones, while respecting the sovereignty of countries in regards to their natural resources.

The pace of tropical deforestation is particularly rapid, with these forests being degraded by 15.40 million ha per year, and it is important for each country, as well as the international community, to cooperate in coping with this problem. For this reason, Japan is putting to use the forest management technology it has accumulated over hundreds of years, the technology and experience it has obtained over decades of national parks management, as well as its experience in promoting the greenery of its land through campaigns among the public in positively promoting international cooperation in the fields of forests and forestry, focusing on tropical regions.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
Promoting the creation of an international framework for dealing with forest-related problems

Japan will positively contribute to the process of creating an international framework, with the idea that countries should make their best efforts to implement the Forest Principles and Agenda 21 in order to build confidence and strengthen cooperation between developed countries and developing countries. Dialogues to discover better ways of international cooperation should be promoted in such fora as the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.

(2)
Promoting bilateral cooperation for the conservation of tropical forests and sustainable management
(i)
As regards the promotion of reforestation, since the technology necessary for reforestation differs depending on region and tree type, and since it takes time for trees to grow, it takes a long time for test reforestation to become successful. For this reason, in addition to continuing and enhancing long-term activities through technical cooperation, Japan will promote technical and financial cooperation for large-scale reforestation activities whose purpose is the restoration of degraded areas, based on the results of technical cooperation.
(ii)
As regards the conservation and sustainable management of natural forests, it is necessary to establish and implement a plan for forestry management, including the establisment of standards for forest management techniques based on the selective cutting system as well as setting allowable cut. For this reason, in addition to conducting basic research regarding the ecosystems of complicated and diverse natural forests, and promoting the systematization of operation techniques for natural forests, Japan will enhance the system for incorporating the results of this research into actual and precise operational techniques in forests, as well as enhance the necessary technical and financial cooperation for maintaining and training forestry technicians who will play the main role in these efforts.
(iii)
As regards the diversity of ecosystems and species, the conservation of forests which have typical ecosystems and beautiful natural scenery, as well as forests where endangered species live, represents an urgent problem, and Japan will promote technical and financial cooperation for the management and enforcement of such conservation. Japan will, on a more general level, also promote assistance for the conservation and management of forest ecosystems in developing countries.
(iv)
In addition to providing information necessary to formulate policies for the conservation and rehabilitation of such forests, Japan will conduct planning for cooperative activities that will contribute to technological transfer, fostering human resources and strengthening organizations, encourage the participation of local residents in the conservation of forests and reforestation according to the conditions of each region, and promote sustainable development for agriculture and forestry.
(v)
While mostly providing assistance for tropical forest management, Japan will examine the possibility of providing assistance for forests in temperate and boreal zones, semi-arid zones, as well as zones with economies in transition.
(3)
Promoting multilateral cooperation through ITTO and Other Organizations
(i)
Since enhancement of the activities of ITTO, whose purpose is the conservation and sustainable management and utilization of tropical forests, is of great importance, Japan will reinforce its support of the diverse activities of ITTO, including the adoption of the Year 2000 Target ("to trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed resources by the Year 2000"), drawing up guidelines for the sustainable management of both natural and man-made tropical forests, drawing up action plans, and carrying out various kinds of projects.
(ii)
The Tropical Forest Action Plan (TFAP) serves as an international framework for the conservation and sustainable management of tropical forests as well as for the assessment of forest resources on a global scale, which is conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO.) These assessments are important for the sustainable management of the world's forests, and Japan will continue to support the FAO's activities.
(iii)
Japan will positively support the activities of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), which is dedicated to the promotion of international research on forest management technology that takes into consideration the conservation of the environment. Japan also supports the activities of the International Council for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), which promotes the sustainable, productive and effective use of land on which trees and crops are grown together.
(iv)
As financial assistance for regional development and forestry projects is also important, the activities of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are important for the sustainable management of the world's forests, and Japan will continue to support the activities of these institutions.
(4)
Promoting international cooperation in the field of timber trade

Because it is necessary to promote international cooperation for the development of trade which is harmonious with sustainable forest management, Japan attaches great importance to the "the Year 2000 Target" adopted by the ITTO, and will further promote international cooperation to achieve this objective. Also, reflecting the experience of the ITTO, Japan will positively contribute to discussions to establish rules of timber trade, with a view toward conserving the world's forests.

(5)
Promoting international exchange regarding forests in temperate and boreal zones
(i)
Recognizing the important role in the conservation of the global environment played by temperate and boreal forests, Japan will promote exchange in research on forest management technology for temperate and boreal forests.
(ii)
Japan will support the continuation and reinforcement of forest resources assessment in temperate and boreal forests, which is jointly conducted by the FAO and the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).
(iii)
Japan will exchange information on the conservation of forest resources, the sustainable management of forests, and the steady supply of timber with those countries that export timber produced from temperate and boreal forests to Japan, such as Russian Federation, the United States and Canada.
(6)
Japan will assist cooperation in the private sector, including that of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in the field of forests and forestry.
(7)
Japan will encourage basic surveys and research that are essential to facilitate sustainable forest management.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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