Basic Policy of Conserving Domestic Forest Resources

The devastation of timber plantations such as Japanese cedar and cypress farmed cedar and Japanese cypress trees throughout each region of Japan is a concern. The reasons for this devastation include the stagnation of timber value and worsening profitability as well as the inability for proper thinning or other management of the forests. The Government of Japan in order to avert exacerbation of the forest depredation by revitalizing the forestry industry, established a goal to raise Japan’s timber self-efficiency to 50% by 2025.

Breakdown of Company-Owned Forests

Breakdown of Company-Owned Forests

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Preserving and Increasing Forest Resources through Management of Company-Owned Forests

Sumitomo Forestry owns a total 47,977 hectares of forest in Japan (around 1/800 of the country’s land area). Company-owned forests are categorized as either “commercial forests,” where the production of timber is the priority, or “environmental forests,” where conservation of the environment is the focus.

Sumitomo Forestry acquired a forestry certification from Japan’s Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council (SGEC)*1 for all company-owned forests*2 in 2006 and third-party evaluations have confirmed that the forests are being properly managed, including with regard to measures to conserve biodiversity. New forest purchases after the acquisition of the forest certification have each been under evaluation for certification and our certification rate is 100%.

Forest operations include appropriate thinning, which helps to preserve and increase forest resources, while taking into consideration the surrounding environment including the ecosystem. Sumitomo Forestry also aims for highly productive management of its forests based on operational plans that follow the principle of performing the appropriate management for the appropriate tree species on the suited land.

*1 Japan's own forestry certification system through which forest management is verified as sustainable by third parties. Certification is based on seven criteria that include the preservation of biodiversity and the conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources. Social awareness is growing due to recognition of the PEFC*3 forestry certification system, an international certification system, since June 2016.

*2 The forests owned by Sumitomo Forestry exclude the lands leased to Kawanokita Development Co., Ltd., which is a Group company responsible for operating a golf course. Moreover, newly purchased forests are excluded from the forests purchased in fiscal 2017 because of expanded inspections for the next fiscal year.

*3 Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes is an international NGO that mutually recognizes certification standards created in each country and region as criteria to share internationally. As of December 2017, forestry certification systems in 49 countries have joined PEFC of which 37 have been mutually recognized as forestry certification systems.

Distribution and area of company-owned forests (as of March 31, 2018)

Distribution and area of company-owned forests (as of March 31, 2018)

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Taking Hold of Potential in New Forests

Efforts in Fast-growing Trees

Sumitomo Forestry has begun efforts in fast-growing tree forests that are gaining more attention in recent years. Fast-growing trees are trees such as Japanese cedar, chinaberry, willow and white birch that grow quickly and allow harvests in a short cutting cycle compared to Japanese cedar or Japanese cypress.

The Hyuga Forestry Office is conducting a test harvest of Chinese fir in the Hitoyoshi company-owned forest in Kumamoto prefecture. This test monitors aspects that include the reduction in weeding and tolerance against elements like wild animals through growth surveys and other research to examine the potential as a new tree species for garden vegetation. We have been considering introduction into some of our businesses as of fiscal 2018.

In addition, Sumitomo forestry is also advancing the implementation of plans for test harvesting these fast-growing trees with the Forest and Landscape Research Center.

Raning poles

Ranging poles

Launch of “FRD” Forestry Roadway Design Support System

Forests in Japan often have insufficient roads or strip roads in place which prevent smooth management of forests and transport of the timber that is harvested. Currently, when constructing roads or strip roads in forests, lines are drawn by hand over a paper topographical map before visiting the site to see if that plan for the road network can be executed as is. This process of examination is usually done over and over again. The work to create these line drawn plans as well as check and verify the site rely heavily on individual intuition and experience as well as cost a vast amount of time and labor.

This software takes advantage of precise topographical data obtained from aerial laser and other measurements to design forestry road networks such as forest roads and strip roads. The main feature is a function for automatic design able to automatically create the line drawings by inputting the site of departure and destination in the operation screen. This feature creates low-cost line drawn plans based on parameters, including requirements such as longitudinal slope and the curvature radius, width, and operation costs specified in advance. In addition, the software packs more features than necessary for the job, such as allowing the design of safety lines that reflect areas which should be avoided due to potential collapse and other circumstances when creating a plan. The on-site exploration of the line drawn plans for roadways designed in the software offers efficient on-site verification.

Automatic Design Screen (Image)

Automatic Design Screen (Image)

Spearheading Forest Revitalization and Developing Assist Suits for the Forestry Industry

Sumitomo Forestry exhibited the TABITO-03 prototype at the International Robot Exhibition 2017 to demonstrate the first assist suit for the forestry industry able to reduce muscle of burden by 17%. This consortium is comprised of the Forest Research and Management Organization, ATOUN Inc. and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology. Development is moving forward with the aim of practical implementation by 2025.

The TABITO-03 currently under development has been able to reduce the muscle of burden for forestry workers up to 17%. This is the first time a reduction in the physical load has been broken down into data in the forestry industry. The load on the shoulders and feet of works can also be reduced by wearing this assist suit when carrying heavy loads such as a pack with seedlings or planting tools several dozen kilometers. Forestry workers make their way to worksites by climbing up sudden slopes on mountain routes that zig-zag through the landscape when working in steep mountain forests. Practical applications of the assist suit for the forestry industry would dramatically improve work efficiency in the shortest climbs and descents without worry of exhaustion.

Evaluation of the TABITO-03

Evaluation of the TABITO-03

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CSR