Corporate Social Responsibility Information

Forest Management in Japan

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

Distribution and Area of Company-Owned Forests
(as of March 31, 2016)
Distribution and Area of Company-Owned Forests

Sumitomo Forestry owns a total 46,443 hectares of forest in Japan (around 1/900 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 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.
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 operations 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.
  • *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.

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Forest Management Consulting Business in Japan

Sumitomo Forestry helps promote Japan’s domestic forestry industry by developing its consulting business for forestry management in Japan, applying know-how acquired through management of its own forests.

Consulting in Kyotamba, Kyoto

During fiscal 2014, Sumitomo Forestry was contracted by Kyotamba Town, Kyoto Prefecture to build “forest resources analytical system (hereafter, System),” and at the end of March, 2016 has begun operating the System.
The System gained forest resources information with high accuracy such as tree species, tree heights, the number of standing trees, and its density by using an aerial survey technique that combines aerial photographs and laser surveying*1. The objective is to enforce foremost appropriate forestry management with the precise volume of the resources that is derived from obtained and analyzed data.
In addition to analyzing and consolidating the accurate forest resources information, the System converts detailed topological data acquired by laser survey into usable image format in practice. For greater efficiency and sophistication of forestry management, multiple functions are also incorporated in the System, one of which is an application that simulates designs of construction of forestry roads connected to sites of, for example, thinning operation. Sumitomo Forestry expects that the System will attribute to highly efficacious planning of the thinning operation and plotting and implementation of the forest roads construction plans.
Through these consulting activities, the Company will continue to support the efforts of governments aspiring to manage and utilize forest resources efficiently and effectively.

  • *1 Laser survey: A laser scanner attached to an airplane emits a laser beam which reflects off the earth’s surface. The time for the laser to travel back indicates distance with the earth. A Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) (a measuring system for position and posture) is used to gain the aircraft’s position, enabling the precision measures of elevation and forests.
Aerial laser survey

Aerial laser survey

Forest vegetation mapping

Forest vegetation mapping

Forest roads development (FRD) simulation screen

Forest roads development (FRD) simulation screen

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Consulting in Totsukawa, Nara

Totsukawa Village in Nara Prefecture has some 64,000 hectares of forest, corresponding to 96% of its total land area. Typifying low uplands in Japan, the mountainous region is remote and beset with steep terrain. Consequently, developing road networks has been difficult and the village had been unable to take full advantage of its plentiful forest resources. In response, the village administration and forest owners’ cooperatives have partnered together to promote various initiatives, including development of a processing and distribution hub for timber, based on a vision of “moving the forestry and wood industry to a sixth-order industry.*1” Sumitomo Forestry has provided consultation to Totsukawa Village on using forest resources to revitalize the local economy since fiscal 2011. In fiscal 2015, the consultation centered on three projects.
First is review of “the Totsukawa Village Forests Basic Plan” formulated in fiscal 2011. In order to revisit several issues that arose during the implementation following the establishment of the Plan, a survey of all forest owners in the village was undertaken. Based on the survey results, main forestry stakeholders from inside and outside the village are called for meetings to discuss areas improvement to be made in the Plan to increase the chance of bringing it to practice. Second is support in developing forest roads. An expansion of material production capacities in the village will require wide and robust forest roads. However, the village is located in the hilly environment with many steep slopes making it difficult to develop large forest roads. Therefore, since fiscal 2013, Sumitomo Forestry continuously provided consultation on development of inexpensive and relatively robust strip roads that have been used in the village-owned forests, and assisted in extending the roads by 880 m within a year.
Third is support in improving the forest union's lumber plant management. The village has a lumber plant called the Timber Processing and Distribution Center operated by the Totsukawa Forest Union. To accelerate development of the sixth-order industry utilizing the village's forestry as well as timber industries, the timber plant management urgently needed a reform. Sumitomo Forestry, in cooperation with the Forest Union staff, created the inventory management manual, the comprehensive cost management manual, the itemized cost management manual, and the stock management manual, and consolidated the management method of the plant management.

Building road networks in steep terrain

Building road networks in steep terrain

Onsite seminar on yarding wood with a tower yarder

Onsite seminar on yarding wood with a tower yarder

  • *1. Sixth-order industry: The shift by businesses operating in the primary industry, such as agricultural producers and forestry operators, to also branch out into the secondary industry (processing, manufacture, etc.) and tertiary industry (distribution, sales, etc.)

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Low-Density Reforestation Using Tree Shelters

Sumitomo Forestry is developing a new approach to forestry called “low-density reforestation” which involves the use of tree shelters whereby seedlings are covered by plastic tubes. Damage caused to seedlings by deer feeding on them has become a problem in recent years, but this new type of afforestation using tree shelters will prevent such damage without having to remove the deer from their habitat. As a result, even assuming the same production of timber, it will be possible to reduce the number of trees planted per unit area of land compared to conventional methods, and given this, there is potential for a reduction in forestry labor, such as for cutting and thinning.
In fiscal 2013, Sumitomo Forestry Wood Products Co., Ltd., which is responsible for managing forests owned by the Company, commenced full-scale external sales of Height Shelter S, a tree shelter developed in cooperation with Sumitomo Forestry and Phytoculture Control Co., Ltd. As a result of presenting product proposals, such as to the companies supplying logs to Sumitomo Forestry Wood Products and to forestry cooperatives struggling with the damage caused by deer, sales of the product reached 86,000 in fiscal 2015. 

Reacting to the needs of potential clients, the Company developed wooden columns in addition to conventional steel columns coated with tree resin coating. The wooden columns abate the dismantling operation of shelters in mature forests meanwhile effectively utilizing wood resources, and are anticipated to contribute to the development of forestry industry as well as timber production industry in the community. In fiscal 2016, Sumitomo Forestry Wood Products aims to increase sales to over 120,000, thereby helping to make forestry labor more efficient.

Tree shelters employed in a privately-owned forest in Sukumo City, Kochi Prefecture

Tree shelters employed in a privately-owned forest in Sukumo City, Kochi Prefecture

Sumitomo Forestry Gifu Timber Tree Farming Center Opened

In March 2015, Sumitomo Forestry signed a “Business Agreement Concerning the Gifu Prefecture Project for the Development of Seedling Supply System” with Gifu Prefecture. Following the Agreement, the Company consolidated the facility in fiscal 2016 and launched “Sumitomo Forestry Gifu Timber Tree Farming Center” –one of the few facilities for tree farming from seedling stocks in a large.

Stocks of cedar sprouts

Stocks of cedar sprouts

Participation in “Satoyama Maniwa Forest Development Project”

Sumitomo Forestry was selected as a partner in the Satoyama Maniwa Forestry Development Project being implemented by the City of Maniwa, Okayama Prefecture in July 2015, and is working on establishing a Forest and Forestry Master Plan to enable sustainable use of forests. Revitalization of the forestry industry and its subsequent job creation and local economic development are considered important for achieving regional revitalization of municipalities across Japan, and in hilly and mountainous areas*1 in particular. In the Satoyama Maniwa forestry, a model zone of about 5,700 hectares was established within Maniwa City where Sumitomo Forestry used the latest airborne laser surveying techniques in collecting the necessary basic and established the Master Plan that outlines the zoning*2 practice accordingly with characteristics of trees and the farming policy, as well as harvest plans, logging road network plans, and countermeasures against possible damage from wild animals.
Sumitomo Forestry used tower yarders to harvest a portion of the Maniwa City plantations within the zones and carry out the timber, and conducted cost and productivity analyses.
Sumitomo Forestry aims to improve capacity to meet the city’s growing demand for timber and to contribute to realizing forest management practices that promote a proper balance between forest maintenance, forestry promotion and environmental conservation.

  • *1 Regions with a lot of sloping land between the plains and the mountains.
  • *2 Classification of a forest according to inhabiting tree species, and age and usage of the trees.
Tower yards

Tower yards

Workshop

Workshop

Zoning screen of Maniwa City

Zoning screen of Maniwa City

Selection Technique That Dramatically Improves the Germination Rate of Tree Seeds Developed

In June 2015, in partnership partnership with Kyushu University and the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute (National Research and Development Agency), Sumitomo Forestry discovered a technique for the efficient selection of sound germinable tree seeds, based on reflectance in the infrared wavelength range.
A large number of trees planted after the World War II as a result of the national policy reach the logging age, and to replace these mature trees and reforest the area, a large number of seedling stocks are in need. In contrast, the seedling stocks production site is undergoing a difficult situation across the country in which aging workers engaged in the business with little successors is swaying the stable supply of seedling stocks. Currently, the container seedling stock production is facilitated nationally with the intention to increase the efficiency of the stock production. Nonetheless, low germination rates of domestic cedar, cypress, and larch seeds had averted the mass production of these stocks and was the greatest challenge. Therefore, this new technology as it enables to select germinable seeds of major afforested species, improve of the seedling stock production, and reduce the production cost, gives us hope for sustainable development of forestry.

CSR Report 2016