HIGHLIGHT 2 Contributing to the Protection of Biodiversity From Gray to Green Building Regional Infrastructures That Utilize the Natural Environment

So-called green infrastructures, in other words, infrastructures and land use plans that utilize natural functions, are increasingly becoming an area of focus. Infrastructures form the foundation of industrial and societal activity and include roads, trains, irrigation and other aspects of daily life.

Sumitomo Forestry Group strives to contribute to a sustainable society and economic development not through the development of conventional “gray infrastructures,” such as concrete and steel, but through “green infrastructures,” namely forests and urban green spaces.

A Green Infrastructure Project at a Large-Scale Operation

While green infrastructures are well known overseas, especially in North America and Europe, there have been no large-scale examples in Japan until now.

In fiscal 2018, Sumitomo Forestry Group worked with MS&AD InterRisk Research & Consulting, Inc., of Eco Asset Consortium*1 to implement a biodiversity project at Aioi District of IHI Corporation. This has become a leading-edge example of a green infrastructure at a large-scale operation.

While 71% of the Aioi site is surrounded by lush nature, the site was vulnerable to natural disasters. Sumitomo Forestry, with its experience in forest management and greenery operations, was asked to come up with countermeasures. In 2013, we began surveys to identify all the issues and discovered that the risk of natural disasters was due to animal damage and imbalances in vegetation.

Instead of employing the conventional method of surrounding the site with concrete to prevent landslide damage, we proposed building a green infrastructure that would secure biodiversity within the compound and use greenery and other natural assets to avert damage from disasters. Specifically, we suggested a method of building a retaining wall using logs from windfall trees. In addition, we suggested planting trees in between these logs so that by the time the logs decayed, the planted saplings will have rooted to form strong soil. Because of damage from animals, there was an overabundance of ilex pedunculosa, which deer dislike, causing an imbalance in vegetation. Ilex pedunculusa is a tree species that burns easily. By thinning these trees and using them as materials for fascine*2, we reduced the risk of fire hazards. In addition, to protect slopes, we used local vegetation found within a 20km radius and helped bring back original vegetation.

In addition, we facilitated study sessions among affiliated companies and nearby local companies, utilized local construction materials, and promoted building ties.

As a result of our efforts, the Aioi District of IHI has won high regard for its biodiversity and in March 2019, acquired certification from the Association for Business Innovation in Harmony with Nature and Community (ABINC)*3.

*1 Eco Asset Consortium: A consultancy team comprised of the four companies: Sumitomo Forestry, Sumitomo Forestry Landscaping, MS&AD InterRisk Research & Consulting and Regional Environmental Planning.

*2 Branches that are gathered and made into a bundles. Used for earth retaining walls, among other applications.

*3 A system that certifies initiatives taken by companies to create, maintain and utilize green spaces that take biodiversity into consideration.

Using logs from windfall trees to retain soil and then planting trees in between the logs to further solidify the soil.

Using logs from windfall trees to retain soil and then planting trees in between the logs to further solidify the soil.

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To Expand Green Infrastructures in Japan

This green infrastructure project was implemented by bringing together Sumitomo Forestry Group’s expertise and know how in timber use and greening technologies.

As specified also in the Japanese government’s National Spatial Planning Act, the use of green infrastructures is expanding but related laws have not kept up. One of the roles of our Company is to communicate closely with administrative authorities and determine which technologies we can utilize within the scope of the law to resolve issues one at a time. With this, we are steadily building more and more green infrastructures that are contributing to the protection of biodiversity.

Aioi District of IHI

Aioi District of IHI

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Message from the Person in Charge of IHI

Since 2011, Aioi District of IHI Corporation has been conducting surveys into the operation’s environmental CSR potential with the aim to become a manufacturing site that provides new value to society based on coexistence with the region.

Hence, we launched a biodiversity project that would comprehensively resolve CSR-related issues, such as SDGs, and site management.

In this green infrastructure project, Sumitomo Forestry Group provided us with its knowledge as specialists in forestry and greenery gave its perspective on the types of materials our operation uses, what types of countermeasures to take to prevent animal damage, what types of vegetation to plant that would not be eaten by deer, ways to protect regional biodiversity and other areas.

With ongoing work in biodiversity protection to create a stronger bond between nature and humans, our desire is for the operations to continue to develop as a major manufacturing site. With these activities, we hope that these operations will become a leading biodiversity model operation that is able to withstand and prevent the increasing number of natural disasters.

Shigeo Ozawa, Headquarters Representative, Aioi District, IHI Corporation

Shigeo Ozawa,
Headquarters Representative,
Aioi District,
IHI Corporation


20th Anniversary of the Mt. Fuji Manabi no Mori Natural Forest Restoration Project

Mt. Fuji Manabi no Mori natural forest restoration project celebrates its 20th anniversary. This project started in 1998 to bring back the lush greenery of the national forest near the second station of Mt. Fuji, which was heavily wind damaged by a typhoon.

Up until now, a cumulative total of 28,000 volunteers have helped to plant approximately 30,000 region-specific saplings and conduct other forestry efforts. To monitor the recovery of the natural forest, in addition to vegetation surveys, the Company has been conducting wildlife surveys with the cooperation of the Minami Fuji Branch of the Wild Bird Society of Japan since 2000 and has registered 75 indigenous species of birds to this date. The environment where the ground was bare after the removal of fallen trees gradually transformed from grasslands to forests. With this, the population of pheasants and shrikes is declining, and in their place, the population of such birds of the forest as narcissus flycatchers and varied tit is increasing with opportunities to view them becoming more frequent, indicating that the forest is steadily recovering.

Before planting, Recovering forest

Trends in Wild Bird Population

Trends in wild bird population

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Sustainability Report