Timber is an outstanding sustainable resource. We produce timber primarily through our "resource forests," and provide society with a steady supply, which in turn contributes to the establishment of a recycling-oriented society.
In our "resource forests," toward the sustainable forest management, we maintain an even spread of trees of different ages, and continue to fell and replant a certain portion of each forest, to ensure that we can supply timber consistently over the long term. We have also formulated our very own management standards for each species of tree that we plant, and have set out long-term management plans running up to 80 years into the future, so that we can continue produce high quality timber at a reasonable cost. As the natural world is constantly changing, reality frequently deviates from our initial plans. That is why we carry out onsite surveys across all of our forests every five years, when formulating forest management plans. This enables us to revise plans flexibly, and take remedial measures along the way, to bring us closer to achieving our goals for each forest.
Survey in progress
As well as being company's assets, our company-owned forests are also an important element of the environment, in terms of shaping the local area. Adequate forest management enhances functions that benefit the public as a whole, including watershed protection and prevention of soil loss, all of which helps to prevent disasters in the local area.
Company-owned forests located on the outskirts of urban areas meanwhile are positioned as "environmental forests," parts of which are open to local people to enjoy the natural environment up close. Located in the Teine area of Sapporo, Teine Forest offers a slice of rich forestland that also has excellent transport access from the city center. We open up part of the forest to the people of Sapporo as a public forest, for purposes such as nature walks and camping ground. We also provide access to fields for nature activities organized by local NPO Teine Sato-gawa Tankentai, as a practice slope for local elementary school children to improve their skiing, and for research by universities and other institutions. That is why it is important to maintain an environment that is suitable for each of these purposes, so that everyone in the local community is able to use our company-owned forests in a meaningful way. We bring in light to the interior of our forests, by thinning out trees in dark areas where overcrowding is blocking the sunlight, and quickly remove dead or damaged trees that are at risk of falling, in order to make the forest a safe place. If paths become difficult to use, due to mud caused by melting snow or heavy rains for instance, we lay down timber and take steps to maintain surfaces, so that visitors can walk along the paths with confidence.
As a way to let local residents know about the value and fun that forests provide, we hold tree planting festivals in our forests. In the future, we will be creating more opportunities for local residents to interact with the forests through these kind of active initiatives, and increase our efforts to make the forests of Mitsubishi Materials into valuable features of their local areas.
Experiencing taking sap from a painted maple (Teine Forest)
Tobogganing (Teine Forest)
Maintaining muddy paths (Teine Forest)
Tree growing festival (Teine Forest)
One of the important ways in which forests benefit all of us is through the function they perform in terms of CO2 fixation. As one of the largest owners of forestland in Japan, we dedicate ourselves to sustainable forest management, and do our level best to enhance the CO2 fixation capabilities of the trees in our forests, so that we can do our bit to prevent global warming. The CO2 fixation capabilities of our forests is estimated* to be 54,000 tons per year (corresponding to amount for approx. 26,000 people). The ability of forests to fix CO2 peaks during the period when trees are young or middle-aged. When they age beyond that point, their fixation capabilities start to decline. That is why we make every effort to regenerate our forests, by felling and planting new trees at the right time, in an order to maintain CO2 fixation capabilities over the long term. When trees are cut down, the CO2 remains inside the timber In particular, CO2 remains fixed over a longer period of time if timber is used on a long term basis, as a building material for instance. We therefore contribute to effective CO2 fixation by maintaining stable production of quality timber that can be used for purposes such as building materials, focusing particularly on major commercial species such as Japanese larch and cedar.
Relationship between tree age and carbon absorption/emissions
As our company-owned forests also provide a habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, we take the utmost care to ensure that our various activities, including timber production, do not have a detrimental impact on living organisms.
In addition to prohibiting the felling of trees in key locations where creatures live and move around, including forest ridge and riverside areas, we also refrain from clearing large areas of land even in timber production areas. Ensuring that we never clear connecting areas and that we disperse the areas for the felling of trees enables us to maintain biodiversity within the forest environment.We are also introducing trial forest management schemes in selected areas, aimed at conserving biodiversity. These include managing felling so that we leave underlayer trees after cutting down upper layer trees, rather than bare earth, and actively mixing coniferous and broad leaf trees in certain areas, in order to give the forest a more diverse structure.
We carry out wildlife monitoring on a daily basis too. As well as recording wildlife sightings while on patrol around our forests, we have positioned plant survey sites where we keep track of any changes in plant life, and fixed camera traps to monitor populations of wildlife living in the area. When felling trees or engaging in other such activities, we carry out monitoring surveys before and after, to ensure that wildlife has not been affected. If we find that there are any rare species in the area, we look into ways to minimize impact from our activities, such felling trees at more suitable times of year.
Rare species that have been confirmed to be living in the area (most endangered species included on red lists published by the Ministry of the Environment and Hokkaido Government) are included in our own red list of rare species living in Mitsubishi Materials company-owned forests. Warnings are also issued to all concerned parties with access to the relevant forests.
(Excerpt from a company forest management and administration plan)