Friday, January 27, 2017

Great Expectations: Cypresses, Kabuki, and Biodiversity of Acorns in Kanagawa Prefecture



Since we are in the suburb of Tokyo, residential housing is still a big business in Kanagawa Prefecture. Yet, we do not have forests large enough to meet the demand ... our self-sufficiency rate of wood is less than 1%, and we harvest fewer logs than Tokyo whose forest coverage is 20% smaller than ours. A rumor: the previous Governor of Tokyo, Shitaro Ishihara, who took a peculiar approach for solving “environmental” problems, once ordered to “eliminate pollen producing bastard trees.” … Hearing this, I felt déjà vu to the pandemonium in the relocation of Tsukiji Fish Market


Well, Lovers of Niiharu does our share of thinking
the way to maximize the utility of cut trees.
We have “paved” a muddy path
within the Ikebuchi Open Space
with logs we harvested last March.
They were first cut into shorter logs to fit into dug-down ground.
Then, we peeled the cambium to make them last longer
… I did not know
leaving the cambium could let the logs be rotten faster.
Next, we paved the ground with the logs …
like this, and filled the surface with the soil
of the amount just enough to cover the logs underneath.
My seniors told me too much soil will make the structure unstable.
Hmmmmmm.
Opening!

The current prefectural policy for forest management is going along the line of national policy. In 2005, at the time of formulating prefectural Forest Environment Tax, the local government resuscitated the support for maintenance work in forestry roads to carry thinned trees out from the formerly abandoned water source forests. Now the prefecture has several subsidy schemes such as for introductions of the latest technology machines, skill-trainings for foresters (about 300 “survive” in Kanagawa now) and architects, and consolidation of forest lands among small title holders. City of Yokosuka is planning to operate a biofuel plant for power generation in 2019, which is the first in Kanagawa. Events for promoting wood housing are held several times a year in many parts of the prefecture. Mr. Masaaki Nagai from the Forest Rejuvenation Section of the Prefecture told us as of 2016 harvestable trees in Kanagawa are increasing 160 thousand cubic meters per year. Out of them, only 30 thousand is actually procured for wood products. As a policy, the local government does not intend to expand the chopping down further, but maintains the rest for intensive care of water source forests. Having said that, the forest cooperative and the prefectural government try jointly to establish “Kanagawa brand wood” as superior quality of handsome prices. One of the flagship projects was the supply of the best cypress boards to Kabukiza Theatre in Tokyo.


A notice board in Tanzawa
about local policy for water source forests

In Tanzawa Mountains, the area surrounded by trekking roads for the main peaks from Yabitsu Pass is (1) Quasi-National Park in the higher elevation, and (2) the lower altitude area as the property of Moroto Holdings Co., one of the largest forestry companies in Japan. When Kabukiza was renovated in 2013, Moroto Holdings provided the best cypresses as stage boards from their property in Tanzawa, processed after biodrying. Cypress has been the most expensive wood material for centuries in Japan. During Tokugawa Shogunate period, only a handful of Noh and Kabuki theatres that were registered as “official” could use cypresses for their stage. So, there is a Japanese lingo; “Hinoki butai (cypress stage)” = “The top-rated stage only the best and brightest shall stand.” When Kabukiza chose the trees from Kanagawa, people in-the-know danced for joy as the pride of our home town.


Over there is a property of Moroto Holdings.

And here, we return to the matter of baby trees. The strictly controlled supply of coniferous seedlings ensures the genetic origin of artificial forests in Japan. With the regime, Dr. Saitoh of Kanagawa Prefecture managed to establish a supply system for cedar seedlings of fewer pollens. He’s trying to do the same for cypresses. Good. A snag is, within the Prefecture the demand for the seedlings is limited, i.e., to replace less than 30 thousand cubic meters of commercial trees. (Not all the deforested areas are afforested by new cedar seedlings, you know.) As it takes at least 3 years to prepare coniferous tree seedlings in Kanagawa - 1 year for preparing the soil, and 2 years for a seed to become a seedling strong enough to be transplanted, the matter could wait somewhat … though, it may not be enough for seedling farmers who themselves are a kind of endangered species within the Japanese economy. At the moment, Tokyo is crazy for cutting their trees. So, many baby cedars from Kanagawa are planted in Tokyo these days. After all, Kanagawa is currently the only prefecture in Kanto Region who can produce pollen-controlled cedar seedlings. Whether this continues to be a viable option for seedling producers in Kanagawa is something we have to watch … Meanwhile, younger people, in their 40s and under, are searching for newer possibilities. How about replacing artificial coniferous forests with broad-leaved trees that dominated Japanese mountains before the start of massive deforestation 80 years ago? The national and local subsidies are to enhance environmental sustainability in the forests, which means we don’t have to stick to commercial trees as our great-grandpas did, do we? Incidentally, we have a well-established system of preserving local biodiversity in coniferous trees by controlling the movement of seeds and seedlings. Why not applying it to all the trees for afforestation in Kanagawa?


Fruits for fewer pollen cedars in
Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center
Not all the seedlings in
Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center
are coniferous trees.

The majority of Japanese, especially older folks, still talk with misty eyes their adventure, like “This weekend I took an airplane to join a tour for planting acorns from our town in such-a-far-away place.” But, it seems to me, the consensus for the afforestation would change within 10 years or so when the new generation takes the pole position. “Locality” may be the key for everything in the post-globalization of Kanagawa’s forest. … Somebody may accuse us of being “closed” as always happens for Japan … But it’s not about opening or closing, but for scientific consideration of biodiversity of the entire planet … Forest is a long-term thing. 10 years is short for a tree that can live for centuries. Let’s wait what happens, eventually ;-)



After tree-planting exercise in Hakone this autumn.
Come to think of it,
in a mountain once the cedars grew for commercial purpose,
we did not plant coniferous trees,
but seedlings of broadleaved Quercus accutissimaand serrata purchased with the money from the Emperor.
A-ha.
Pruning also has more emphasis on environmental sustainability,
these days in Kanagawa.
Before the work, the inside was that much congested.
We pruned the forest …
Done!
The forest floor is definitely brighter, and more ventilated.


The contact address for Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター is

657 Nanasawa, Atsugi City, 243-0121 2430121 厚木市七沢657
Phone: 046-248-0323


You can send an enquiry to them by clicking the bottom line of their homepage at http://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/div/1644/


Friday, January 20, 2017

The Tree Awakens: Japanese Forestry for post-globalization



True. As of 2015, Japan still satisfies 67% of our appetite for woods by imports. But they once dominated 81% of the market (; the domestic bottom was 2002). Something is happening. What is it?

A history of Japanese wood procurement, in 1000 cubic meters.
From the data 木材需給表 of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery of Japan.

The start was the change in 1987. Till 1986, Japan bought more raw material logs from overseas and processed them domestically in factories built along the coasts. Then in 1987, the stats for imports of wood products surpassed the timbers. According to the import-export stats from the Ministry of Finance, in 1988 Japan imported logs from 50 countries of every continent, except Antarctica. About 62% of them were from non-EU, non-North American, not-Aussie or not-Kiwi countries. Nonetheless they earned only 56% of Japanese payment for imported logs. It was the time the global development issues and deforestation entered the mainstream of world discussion. People started to talk about climate change and the importance of forests. Simply deforesting for money became rather barbaric both for sellers and buyers.  Meanwhile, in the middle of the 1980s EC, Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand had already switched their strategy for processed woods, and did better business. They showed to the rest of the world how to sell the trees. Everybody upgraded their forestry to value-added, and began legislating the rules for cutting trees and setting export tariffs. The world price for wood set off to going up. Then in the 1990s, China started their miracle years which still continues to this day at least for woods trade. Their way to use woods is definitely different from us. We Japanese are fussy about the quality of woods. Chinese people do not care much, since their main usage of woods is to package their industrial products, such as freight boxes and stuffing. Whatever the quality of timber, the world price of woods stays in a not-so-cheap range because of Chinese demand.


Are Japanese imports Timbers or products?
From the statistics of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, in 1000 cubic meters.

On the other hand, around the same year of 1987, Japan began to have fewer and fewer human babies. By the turn of the century, people really understood the high-growth era was over both for economy and population. Forestry is a long-term business. Everybody agreed that the business model of mass deforestation and afforestation, and importing tons of woods for current consumption, would never be profitable again. In addition, the neglected forests have limited capacity to produce high-quality timbers. The demand for domestic wood shrunk, which caused a dramatic drop of domestic price for woods. Chance! Though they are still pricy compared to the imports, could there be any way of industrial resurrection? The Cabinet decided 2011 Master Plan for Forest and Forestry which was the first for the 21st century Japanese forestry. The policy defined Japanese forestry as a part of environmental issues that should also support rural economy where the effects of declining population concentrate. The Plan has established a legal foundation for subsidies and other public supports to the industry. Japan is after all an archipelago covered with forests. Reducing “wood mileage” makes sense. The Plan sets the national target for domestic wood supply to cover 50% of the Japanese market by 2020, the Olympic Year, until when the construction business is expected to thrive.


The history of Japanese population (measured by the vertical axis), from e-statdata of Japan.
The numbers after 2016 are a projection subject to the assumption
for 2010 mortality and birth rates continuing forever.
The USD price of timber per cubic meter since 1990.
Data from UNECE: domestic market average in Europe and US/Canada, not adjusted for inflation.
Japanese price is the average of cedar and cypress logs per cubic meter, from 2015 White Paperfor Japanese Forestry, adjusted by annual USD/Yen FX (BOJ data), but not for inflation.

There is another tail-wind for Japanese forestry to be resuscitated. Technology. The recent advancement in construction materials with processed wood makes it possible to use below grade timbers for earthquake-tolerant pillars and walls, while the debris is minimum for waste. Before, drying processed woods was done by heating them up with lots of imported fossil fuels in factories built near the ports of international trade. Now drying temperature is optimized in high-tech factories, such as biodryer, to make the usage of fuels minimum without creating burn-marks on products. Although once dead industry lost the skills of foresters, the new technology has started to create a new ways to do the business. The efficiency in cutting timbers could be improved by using CAD and robots. The machines manage to cut out wood parts for mass-housing construction, which enables carpenters to build a full-spec house in less than a month. It can stimulate more domestic demand for wood products. Especially after the Great Tohoku Earthquake, the prefectures with large forests in Kyushu Island and Hokkaido began observing constructions of large wood factories in depopulated villages deep within the forests, where they can easily have logs from nearby. Then, earnest while endeavor for renewable energy turned their eyes to wood chips that can be supplied even from the worst-quality logs found in neglected forests. Power stations for biofuels are sprouting here and there, including devastated Tohoku Region. In 2014, domestic supply of chips for biofuels surpassed the imports. Mr. Masaaki Nagai of Kanagawa Prefecture told us forest instructor trainees that these days people compete for biofuel chips in all over Japan. There is a rumor in 2017 the price of paper in Japan will shoot up because of the material shortage.


Cross-laminatedTimber.
By pasting together wood boards alternately
in their vertical and horizontal grains,
we can create strong enough mass of wood product
that can replace traditional one-timber pillars.
To build an earthquake tolerant house,
we don’t have to search anymore for
“perfect trees” from quasi-abandoned forests.
LaminatedVeneer Lumber.
This one pastes horizontally thin ribbons
made of spirally stripped woods.
It becomes very thick boards
that can be walls of a pillar-less large room.
Since this method does not require flawless trees,
it can use the lesser-grade trees
commonly found these days in Japanese forests.
It won’t leave much waste either.
A biodryer that is situated in Hakone area.
This structure keeps the temperature inside
at 35ºC that is the level promoting
swift natural evaporation of humidity from woods.
The walls of the building are wet
due to organic vapor from the products inside.
Inside of the biodryer
Bandsaw.
Although this one is for old models,
with prefectural subsidy
a factory in Kanagawa Prefecture introduced
CAD-based robotic machines
that can process a timber with
2 bandsaws operating simultaneously.
How to build a house nowadays in Yokohama
… is a giant LEGO play.
Clever computers prepare the parts
out of timbers swiftly,
and the workers assemble them quickly.

In this new development for the forestry, the policy in Kanagawa has also adjusted to the 21st century. To be continued next week …

The contact address for Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター is

657 Nanasawa, Atsugi City, 243-0121 2430121 厚木市七沢657
Phone: 046-248-0323

You can send an enquiry to them by clicking the bottom line of their homepage at http://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/div/1644/


Friday, January 13, 2017

In the long run we are all dead … A New Hope

Keynes

People said “Business of trees is THE long-term thing.” Yeah. When decent-sized logs are needed for construction in Japan, we have to wait. It’s not only that. Thanks to frequent earthquakes, officially or otherwise Japanese construction standard is rigorous for materials. (Legally defined standard for woods can be found here.) In order to produce logs that can satisfy minimum requirement for housing, a coniferous tree should have at least 14cm of diameter, with straight shape and minimum number of knots visible from outside. Its texture must be dense enough to pass the product test so that there are many minus points, like skewed growth rings or insufficiently covered knots by cambium, which are the signs of inadequacy to cope with sudden loads of earthquake. So as to deliver such coniferous trees in the climate of Japanese archipelago, we need soil rich enough with organic materials and sufficient water, but both should not be too much. Excess nutrients let the trees grow too fast, and lender insufficiently dense texture. Before planting seedlings, foresters need to prepare the ground “just right.” For enough sunshine to baby trees, periodic weeding is necessary for the first 3-5 years. To make the trees with less knots and let the sunlight come through smoothly for photosynthesis, pruning is required until the lowest bow is at about 10-15m high. 10-15m is the threshold for nurturing a profitable tree; foresters use the arboreal characteristics which shows the trunk above the lowest bow become conical with a growth point at the top, and the below is a robust cylinder. Meanwhile, for diameter of a marketable tree, thinning will be required. Too sparse the tree distribution is, too coarse the texture. Too congested, the trees remain lanky for decades. Optimal allocation creates enough room for the canopy to spread evenly to all directions, which helps to make the trunk beautifully circular with just-right hardness. The entire procedures are done in steep Japanese mountains for at least 15 consecutive years. The process requires expertise, and lots of money.

Those are the materials required
for housing construction.
They are prepared for
an order-made private house
in Kamakura.

During the World War II Imperial Japanese government mobilized everything for total war, forests included. In addition, after the atomic and other bombs destroyed almost completely the cities in all over Japan, people needed construction materials to rebuild. The shortage of construction materials was acute. The available domestic logs earned handsome profit. Our great-grand parents deforested quite a lot of mountains for money. (Here is the link to see a photo of Tanzawa Mountains around 1955. It’s, really, a woooooow thing.) Yet, domestic forestry could not meet the demand. Japan had a miracle economic growth till 1973 Oil Crisis. Japanese looked for everywhere on the planet and started to import lots of lots of lots of logs and building materials from all over the world. Eventually Japan became very expensive country where for mass-housing construction cheap imports were a norm even after the reconstruction boom. When you can have low-cost imports, no one bother to look after these domestic trees for mass housing. In case a forest has an enthusiastic owner who takes care of the trees, the products are inevitably expensive. They are for luxurious order-made structures, not for average households. It pushed up the price of woods including imports. The technology of housing started to depart from traditional construction with woods. The colleges reduced the study time of wooden buildings for architecture students, since they must learn more economical way to provide houses. The domestic forestry came to be a quasi-dead industry. The price of the trees collapsed to the bottom in 2013.


This is how Tanzawa Mountains look like
from Hadano City in 2016.
Nominal yen price of an average domestic tree in situ (per usable 1m3)
Year
Cedar
Cypress
Pine
Number of forestry workers hirable with the price per 1m3 cedar
Average forestry wage (yen) per diem
1955
4478
5046
2976

1960
7148
7996
4600
11.8 (1961 data)
768 (1961 data)
1965
9380
10645
5743
7.7
1220
1970
13168
21352
7677

1975
19726
35894
10899
3.7
5283
1980
22707
42947
11162

1985
15156
30991
7920
1.8
8629
1990
14595
33607
7528

1995
11730
27607
5966
1
11962
2000
7794
19297
4168
0.6
12160
2005
3628
11988
2037
0.4 (2004 data)
11650 (2004 data)
2010
2654
8128
1496

2012
2600
6856
1464

2013
2465
6493
1376

2014
2968
7507
1638

2015
2833
6284
1531




When Japanese grandpas deforested massively, they at least planted seedlings …. expecting they would fetch a good price later. They did not dream the end of unprecedented construction boom for growing population, or international competition. Now the trees in Japan lost the battle to cheap imports and to the changed construction method. The forests were abandoned. The majority of babies planted 70-50 years ago were literally neglected without proper weeding, pruning, and thinning. They are now adult trees. In Kanagawa Prefecture, 40 years are the standard max to harvest a cedar tree to provide regular-sized timber products. Quite many 70 years old artificially planted cedars and cypresses are past their prime and “lower quality” resources for construction. Their forest also creates unintended consequences for environment. In an afforested area with proper cares, the sunshine comes to the ground through the optimally distributed canopy. It lets the seeds slept in the soil wake up under the tall tree. The undergrowth is rich and the biodiversity is high even within a man-made forest. Such vegetation can retain rain drops more efficiently by cushy leaf mold. It provides steady sources of water to the rivers. When a forest is abandoned, the opposite will occur. The steep mountain slope becomes very dark without much green on the floor. When rain falls down, there’s not much on the ground to keep the H2O from heaven. Rain easily becomes a torrent before reaching to a regular stream. On their way, they wash away the soil. Worst case scenario is hillside landslide where a torrential rain becomes ravenous stream within the forest, excavates the mountain itself in massive scale, and scoops up the roots of the trees. The mountain collapses, man-made structures down there will be crushed by tumbling-down boulders and huge trees. Even huge dams can be destroyed. People could be killed and the cities dependent on the water coming from those mountains will have water shortage. This risk is the fundamental reason why the City of Yokohama and Kanagawa Prefecture collect environment tax for funding the efforts to stop at least further degradation of forest in our city and prefecture.


A remnant of a log of Chamaecyparis pisifera from a quasi-abandoned forest in Niiharu.
Even for the amateur’s eyes of mine,
it’s not at commercial grade …
it had about 50cm of diameter ... what a waste …
They are the logs of
Chamaecyparis obtusa presentable for markets.
An artificial forest in Hakone area where we did
thinning exercises for forest instructor training.
It’s the property of Kanagawa Prefecture, and
quite many volunteers enter the site for maintenance.
Nonetheless,
there is oversupply of trees to be pruned and thinned.
The forest floor is this much dark, morning and afternoon.
We trainees talked about “losing the touch of time.”

Even so, when Japanese Meteorological Agency issues a forecast of “effective humidity,” it’s not the rate of vapor in the air. It measures how dry a wood product for housing is, for alerting the people about fire hazards. The weather-people calculate the moving average of daily degree of dryness of a wood situated in their instrument shelters nationwide, and tell us “Today’s dryness of Yokohama is 57% (; this is the average of January 2016).” Living in wooden structures is the foundation of Japanese psyche. We have kept the relationship with wood products despite of the disintegrated forestry industry. Then, very interestingly, thanks to a very new trend of international trade, sustainable development discussion at global policy making, and pure, soothing smell of trees in Japanese traditional houses, a seemingly finished domestic industry might be resurrected soon. I’ll tell you next week what we were shown during the forest instructor training about the efforts for eco-friendly forestry in Kanagawa.


“Project Godzilla – a landscape with an eye”
by Yukinori Yanagui.
Downtown Yokohama had his exhibition “Wondering Position”
at BankArt Studio NYK, ended this New Year Holiday week.
I was intrigued by the image of ruins for Yanagui.
It is made of woods mainly. He’s very Japanese …
I don’t think an artist from Aleppo would
present the concept of destruction in this way.


The contact address for Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター is

657 Nanasawa, Atsugi City, 243-0121 2430121 厚木市七沢657
Phone: 046-248-0323
You can send an enquiry to them by clicking the bottom line of their homepage at http://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/div/1644/

Friday, January 6, 2017

Nursery Rhymes for Forests: the Forestry Seeds and Seedlings Act of Japan



Probably quite a lot of people would be surprised to hear that the huge city of Yokohama is the major production center for tree seedlings in Kanagawa Prefecture. At least I was astonished. Actually, the area spreading from around Wuerthrich and Masakarigafuchi Citizen Forests to Seya, Oiwake, and Yasashi Citizen Forests is traditionally the supplier of tree seedlings for more than 400 years. The Cedar Avenue of Nikko 日光, listed in the Guinness Book as the longest tree-lined avenue of the world, is from the seedlings from farms near Wuerthrich Citizen Forest in the early 17th century. Now the place is Seya 瀬谷, Izumi , and Totsuka 戸塚 Wards that is a typical suburbia for Tokyo with lines of houses and condos, rather than seedlings … Even though, there remain several farmers who preserve their family business with hundreds of years of history. As of 2016, Kanagawa Prefecture has 9 seedling producers, the majority of whom are from the area. You may think why such a tiny number of statistics is relevant. It’s because in Japan production of commercial tree seedlings are strictly controlled by national law. It would sound sooooooo “command-and-control economic policy of Japan.” During the time of PM Koizumi when liberalization was the policy mantra, the system was almost for abolition. It survived, with reason.


You may not believe we have a leading seedling farm
very near from this busy Route #1 in Yokohama.

Betweenthe 14th to 16th centuries, Japan was a fragmented archipelago where the land was dissected by warlords. All of them were avid followers of Sun Tzu strategy, i.e. to win a war having enough economic power was (and is, I think) the MUST. They vigorously promoted industrial policy that could exploit comparative advantage of their domain. Timbers were (and are) important resource for construction and civil engineering in Japan. There was (and is) a huge demand. The region of good quality timbers could do nicely by trading their product. Warlords who governed the forests of better woods, especially coniferous trees such as pine, cedar and cypress, supported energetically the industry of afforestation. Then, one of the warlords, Tokugawa Ieyasu 徳川家康 conquered all the rest, and became the top dog, called Shogun 将軍, in 1603. To control possible usurpers of his post, he and his children established a system that automatically forced the former warlords, now feudal lords in each prefecture, to spend their wealth massively in a variety of ways. (e.g. They had to travel between Tokyo and their territory regularly with strictly defined, i.e. veryexpensive, way.) Inevitably, the provincial economic policy of comparative advantage was pushed more rigorously. Those superior quality seedlings became often prohibited to be exported beyond their border. They were the trade secret those days. In Japan we have the list of “the Most Beautiful Forests of the Nation,” the forests of Japanese cedar in Nara Prefecture 奈良県 (Yoshino Sugi 吉野杉), of Thujopsis dolabrata in Aomori Prefecture 青森県 (Aomori Hiba 青森ヒバ), of Japanese cypresses in Nagano Prefecture 長野県 (Kiso Hinoki 木曽檜), and of Japanese cedars in Akita Prefecture 秋田県 (Akita Sugi 秋田杉). All can go back to those days for the origin of their fame (and woooow-price). The result? Quite unintentionally, feudal 500 years of market competition for differentiated product of timber protected Japanese diversity of coniferous trees at gene level.


… though ours are not celebrities from
Nara,Aomori, Nagano, or Akita,
 the forest in Kanagawa is also beautiful …

After Meiji Restoration of 1867, the system of Japanese economic policy mimicked European style, i.e. the centralized command from the capital city, Tokyo. A policy the national government took for forestry was the deforestation for nationwide construction of “modern Japan” and uniform afforestation of the deserted mountains with the seedlings of Yoshino Sugi. That was a disaster. The half-cooked policy measure let the fake “Yoshino Sugi” seedlings to dominate the national seedling market. Worse. The baby cedars transferred from one place to another could not survive in different climates. The massive die-backs occurred here and there. Lessons were learned and the time was when the Soviet Union of planned economy emerged. In 1939, the Forestry Seeds and Seedlings Act 旧林業種苗法 was established to control the market of seeds and seedlings for commercial forestry. It also designated each governor of a prefecture as a custodian of good forests that must be sustained not only for commercial reason, but also for their public values … hey, forests are very long-term thing for reservoir of water, buffers of natural disaster, and place of meditation, i.e. the space the tragedy of commons can easily occur and hence even a tiny provincial government must intervene (; so the law said). All the same, during the World War II Japanese forests were mobilized, and Japan became scorched land atomically or otherwise. After 1945, the epic reconstruction came with massive demand for timber and for afforestation of deforested mountains. The 1939 law was rewritten for the new economic policy, to provide enough seedlings of coniferous trees to be used in construction sectors … Some say they short-cut the locality issues of trees for expediency … Whatever, the large afforestation project at that time is the origin of hay fever these days!  -_-  Since then, the Forestry Seeds and Seedlings Act was updated several times according to the condition of forestry in Japan. The last update was in 2016.


A typical artificial cedar forest

The act covers 8 kinds of coniferous trees that are considered to be important for (at least commercial) timber and construction industries. Pines, cypresses, and cedars are of course included. The law says the supply of those 8 kinds of trees are allowed only by the producers who passed the national license exam (which some say is harder than the national bar exam), and updated their knowledge without fail in regular interval. The labeling of seeds and seedlings must follow the legally defined format. What they can sell in the market shall pass the strict quality inspection done by each prefecture. To assist farmer’s quality control, each prefecture must provide technical support for seeds / seedlings improvements, which is the job of Dr. Saitoh for Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター. Each prefecture in Japan registers “superior quality wild trees (of 8 species) within the border” that can act as parents for the seeds and seedlings the licensed farmers would nurture. If necessary, the scientists of a prefecture modify the seeds according to the emerging demand, as Dr. Saitoh does for pollen-less cedars and cypresses. The licensed farmers closely cooperate with the prefectural scientists in order to commercialize the quality-controlled baby trees. Needless to say, foreign import of seedlings is strictly controlled. … We might expect some twitter feeds from the Trump Tower lambasting Japanese forestry as “horrible protectionism!” … I think there is a merit in this time-honored policy born out of 500 years of experience. The law has ultimately systematized the traditional approach preserving DNA-diversity of 8 kinds of trees in each locale. Nowadays, some younger people have started to ponder to use the scheme for afforestation of broad-leaved forests, in order for the improvement in general biodiversity ... Before going there, we must talk about current domestic timber industry in Japan first. ;)


The seedlings of
Quercus serrata (the one with leaves)
and Quercus acutissima (in Kanagawa Prefecture of October,
they have already shed their leaves).


The contact address for Kanagawa Natural Environment Conservation Center 神奈川県自然環境保全センター is

657 Nanasawa, Atsugi City, 243-0121 2430121 厚木市七沢657
Phone: 046-248-0323
You can send an enquiry to them by clicking the bottom line of their homepage at http://www.pref.kanagawa.jp/div/1644/