Our forest management activities date back to the early Meiji period, when the Yoshioka Mine was acquired and commenced operation. Since that time, Mitsubishi Mining Company Limited, the predecessor of Mitsubishi Materials, has owned and maintained the neighboring forests in order to procure pit props and fuel wood, and to improve the business environment.
During the prewar era, the Company purchased and owned vast forests as mines and coal mines were developed in many parts of Japan. In the postwar era, forest-related businesses expanded until the early 1960s before beginning to suffer from a decrease in pit prop demand due to the closure of coal mines and the worsening conditions in the timber market. In recent years, we have continued shipping larch in Hokkaido for use in packaging materials. In general, our forest management efforts have focused on thinning forests instead of cutting down all the trees.
Our Company-owned Forest: Hayakita, Hokkaido (both)
We currently own around 14,500 hectares of forestland in Japan, mainly in Hokkaido, making us one of the largest owners of forestland in the country. We originally began acquiring forests for the purpose of supplying wooden supports for our own mines and coal mining activities. As we no longer operate domestic mines or engage in coal mining however, our forests now fulfill different roles and are subject to different expectations.
In addition to preserving biodiversity and helping to prevent global warming by absorbing CO2, we want our forests to fulfill their various public functions to the full, not least in terms of producing wooden resources. That is why we are working with Mitsubishi Materials Real Estate Corp., which manages our company-owned forests, to ensure sustainable forest management, with the aim that Mitsubishi Materials' forests will lead the way for forests throughout Japan.
In recognition of sustainable forest management initiatives such as these, in October 2012 we obtained certification from the Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council (SGEC) at Hayakita Forest in Hokkaido. Since then, the SGEC has revised and introduced certification standards outlining transitional procedures for mutual certification with the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), an international forest certification scheme. With that in mind, we simultaneously obtained forest certification under the SGEC's new standards for a total of nine forests in Hokkaido in September 2015, including Hayakita Forest. Mutual SGEC and PEFC certification came into effect in June 2016. Having passed differential screening and met the requirements for PEFC certification, our sustainable forest management activities are now internationally recognized.
Distribution and scale of company-owned forests
Located on a relatively gentle incline, Hayakita Forest provides the ideal environment for producing timber. It is also situated close to paper factories that use a great deal of wood, and to the Port of Tomakomai, which is heavily used for shipping outside Hokkaido. As such, it is positioned as a “resource forest” for the sustainable production of timber and other wood products. In contrast, Teine Forest is located within the city limits of Sapporo, and is well suited to growing useful trees such as Japanese oak, monarch birch and Japanese lime. It is therefore positioned as a suburban “environmental forest,” designed to familiarize local people with our activities based on appropriate zoning.
We have also set out distinct roles for other forests, as part of our commitment to managing forests in a rational and efficient manner so that they can fulfill their individual functions more effectively.
|Birds and mammals||Black woodpecker, peregrine falcon, goshawk, etc.|
|Aquatic species and insects||Poplar admiral, Japanese crayfish, masu salmon, etc.|
|Plants||Japanese wood poppy, acer miyabei, Japanese peony, etc.|
Forests have a wide range of capabilities, from preserving biodiversity and absorbing CO2 to producing timber as a sustainable resource. As a society, we continue to place greater expectations on forests with every passing year. That is why setting targets is an essential part of forest management, so that we can map out a vision for forests in the future, in terms of which capabilities to prioritize.
In an effort to ensure more balanced forest management based on people's needs, Mitsubishi Materials Real Estate Corp. holds its own monthly workshops and bi-monthly regular meetings with Mitsubishi Materials, in order to further debate in this area, and dedicates itself to achieving our vision for forests in the future on a daily basis.
As an example of one priority initiative, we are currently working on "zoning" activities at each of our forests. Zoning is an approach based on clearly marking out areas according to their expected capabilities, and then implementing management policies accordingly for each zone, in the interests of effective forest management. Specifically, the aim is to focus on timber production in zones where the trees have the strongest growth potential, whilst also enhancing the forest's multifunctional capabilities. Zones with features such as ridges and streams meanwhile are spared from logging as a rule, with an emphasis on preserving biodiversity instead. Setting targets in line with the characteristics of each zone in this way is intended to maximize the multifunctional capabilities that forests have to offer.