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  5. Considering a policy of reducing reforestation in national land management for the 21st century

2014 Vol.1
Considering a policy of reducing reforestation in national land management for the 21st century


Forests are extremely important ecosystems in terms of land management and account for approximately 70% of Japanese land. In this paper, a land management perspective was used for comprehensively evaluating how to manage plantation forests, which have doubled in area over the last few decades due to the expanding reforestation policy after the Second World War. This evaluation considers not only trends in wood demand but also maintenance of healthy forest ecosystems. In contrast to the previous forecast on which the expanding reforestation policy was based, the current demand for Japanese wood is falling due to market saturation. Consequently, even while new demand is being developed for biomass energy and other applications of unused wood, a policy of reducing reforestation─that is, allowing plantation forests to undergo natural ecosystem processes and transitions to natural forests─will be challenging to implement in light of the increased risk of natural disasters. In addition, semi-natural grasslands, which have existed on the Japanese peninsula for 10,000 years, are important as habitats, especially for rare species, and can also serve as important ecosystems with contemporary significance for managing wildlife such as deer and for use as pasture. The proposed policy of reducing reforestation should be administered differently from the previous reforestation policy, which encouraged expansion of plantation forests; the policy should instead adhere to the principle of a locally led approach. This will be essential for adopting market incentives, fostering expert practitioners, and building consensus at the local level.