To our dear friends worldwide,
Our life changed drastically due to the tsunami at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. We were living in a coastal village named Kitakama, located in the east of Sendai Airport, in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture. About 400 people, mostly farmers, were living in 100 residential houses. 55 residents lost their lives in the tsunami disaster. We lost all of a sudden our living just in one day.
Under such a situation, we were completely at a loss. In May 2011, staff of OISCA came to visit Natori for an on-site survey of possible restoration of the damaged seashore forest.
Through its long experience of carrying out worldwide activities, OISCA recognized the important role of seashore forests in fighting against natural disasters, for windbreak and prevention of flying sands and tidal waves. Together with us, OISCA launched a project to plant 500,000 black pine trees in an area covering 100 hectares to restore the damaged coastal forest.
Through the twists and turns, we held a tree-planting ceremony in May 2014 and planted about 80,000 black pine seedlings said to be resistant to insects over 15-hectare land. In spite of the severe coastal environment where salty wind constantly blows, the seedlings have been steadily growing thanks to the dedicated efforts of the disaster-affected farmers.
Before the disaster, Kitakama was a melon and Chinese cabbage (qing-geng-cai) producing area. The coastal forest also protects agricultural crops from the cold sea breeze. Since it was started to plant trees for the restoration of the coastal forest indispensable for agriculture, there has been a new momentum for the renaissance of agricultural crop producing area. The improvement and development work of the adjacent agricultural land has made progress and about 300 units of green houses were built. We can finally see a bright light in the development of new infrastructure for our living. This year, we are going to start making preparations for vegetable production.
The Coastal Forest Restoration Project is not only limited to the restoration of the “hardware and functions” such as the prevention and mitigation of natural disasters, salty wind, wind-blown sands and tidal waves, but will also significantly contribute to the restoration of the “heart and mind” to rebuild our community with our own hands.
This is the 4th year since the Coastal Forest Restoration Project was implemented. But black pine trees do not grow in a brief space of time, and sustained efforts are required for a long time to come. We are firmly determined to work very hard for restoring “beautiful stretch of sandy beach dotted with green pine trees”.
We strongly request for your continued support for and participation in our Project.
Eiji SuzukiPresident Association for Restoration of Coastal Forest in Natori City
"We did not realize how they [the pine trees on the coast] have guarded our lives from the sea - from its wind, tide, and sand - until they were gone" says Mr. Mori, one of the community members of the OISCA's project. The forest, for a long time, had prevented the sea side city from many sea/salt-induced damages that could have occurred, until the Tsunami brutally washed away the people's lives, livelihoods, and most of the forest on the coast. More than 80% of the city formerly had engaged in agriculture. The damage of Tsunami was detrimental for survivors to rebuild their lives on agriculture. In fact Tsunami left sea salt on the ground.
The good news is that the Restoring the Coastal Forest Project has got a great team! It's got a well respected and connected local leader Mr. Suzuki who is a former teacher and owner of a parking lot in Sendai Airport. Mr. Yoshida from OISCA was successful in pulling Mr. Sasaki in, an excellent expert who previously headed the Forestry Management Office of Japan's Forestry Agency in Tohoku region, as a local coordinator. I only met handful members of the community, but I saw vibrant activities through them with trust, care, and efforts being put into the huge 10-year project. I was thanked by the team, so, on behalf of you, GlobalGivers, I received the gratitude.
"The project's job opportunity has helped our lives, and helped becoming reconnected with my former neighbors" says Mr. Otomo, another member of the community. Tsunami displaced survivors who were living the area. Community members learn to raise and take care pine seedlings, and get paid for the time they work. The seedlings of pines are raised with great care so that they could minimize loss/ failure to root. The long term goal they (the members, mostly elderly) see is to start this forest for the next generations to then foster, and to create a disaster resilient community.
I saw the spirit of learning from the failure [past] and being creative on solutions with limited resources, because "it's the nature we are dealing with" as Mr. Sugawara from OISCA put.
A total of 100 volunteers from the different parts of Japan were gathered for the monthly organized activity of maintaining both the nursery and tree planting site in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture.
Izumi Kazuko (45) along with her colleagues travelled all the way from Osaka City to help in the monitoring and evaluation of the planted seedlings as well as in the whole day of uprooting the weeds in the 15 hectares project site.
Izumi Kazuko (center) and her colleagues help in monitoring the growth and survival of the planted black pine seedlings.
Almost four years since the earthquake and tsunami, the presence of volunteers like Izumi has a strong impact among the victims who are feared of being abandoned, ignored and forgotten. “It would be my 10th time to volunteer in Tohoku Region since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Involving in OISCA project is my 3rd time”, said by Izumi.
When asked why she keeps on coming back, Izumi answered that the video showing the houses and Sendai Airport engulfed by tsunami triggered her decision to volunteer in Tohoku. She is grateful that OISCA is organizing events that enable her to mingle and communicate with the local victims. It is ironic that despite the two days of arduous work, she felt energized.
Izumi also mentioned that as a woman, her capacity is very limited but working with the other volunteers could somehow help her contribute in rebuilding the lives of the local victims and for the immediate recovery of Tohoku Region.
Since OISCA will be covering another 15 hectares next year, Izumi is urging other volunteers to echo their experiences through social networks to encourage participation from other people. She also mentioned that there is a need to further promote the project so as to mobilize thousands of volunteers and be involved with the project.
A two-day survey was conducted by the team of 25 members led by Dr. Kunihiro Seido, OISCA`s forest adviser and mobilized volunteers to closely monitor and evaluate the 75,000 black pine seedlings planted last May along the 15 hectares coastline of Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture.
Based on the collected data, the survival rate of the planted seedlings is 99.5% and has exceeded the 50% rate of the other coastal reforestation projects previously funded by the local government of Miyagi Prefecture. Pressured by the high probability of seedlings mortality and the limited availability of seeds due to the government`s control of its distribution; the seedlings are very valuable that we could not take the risk of letting them die from improper handling.
Tapping the services of the forestry professional workers and organizing trainings for the tsunami survivors to become professionals on the proper handling and planting of black pine seedlings contributed on the high survival rate. Since Japan`s four seasons hinders us from planting all year round, seeking the help of these professionals who are capable of planting the seedlings in a speedy and efficient manner is one of our best decisions.
We also attribute the high survival rate on the excellent condition of the seedlings; perfect timing of planting; and proper hauling and handling of seedlings during the tree planting activities. Prior to planting, the innovative way of soaking the roots of the seedling in polymer solution with liquid fertilizer is also proven to be effective.
Meanwhile, the representatives of Japan`s Forest Agency recognized the thorough and extra care shown by the total of 2,000 volunteers who have helped in the maintenance of the two nurseries and the planting site. The volunteers helped in weeding and putting of mulch using wood chips to cover the roots of every seedling. The wood chips are proven to be effective in conserving water moisture, neutralize the ground temperature and protect the seedlings from strong winds.
In preparation for the next tree planting next year to cover another 15 hectares, we are now growing black pine seedlings in the two nurseries. We intend to train and involve more tsunami survivors and seek the help of professional workers for the reforestation related activities. We are also working harder to further promote the project to encourage supporters and mobilize volunteers for the successful implementation of the project.
Blessed with a good weather, a total of 350 locals were gathered and volunteered in the tree planting activities organized by OISCA International in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture on the 24th of May. Since the project will be implemented for 10 years and an extension of another ten years, involvement of the locals is needed to encourage a sense of ownership and so as to promote project sustainability. Divided into 10 groups, the volunteers planted a total of 5,000 black pine seedlings in one hectare under the guidance and assistance of the professional planters.
Prior to the event, OISCA Natori Office has been organizing trainings to mold professionals who will be in charge in growing and maintaining the planting site. These professionals include the members of the Natori Coastal Forest Association Members (local farmers and tsunami survivors), Forest Owner`s Cooperative Association of Miyagi Chuo and members of the Sendai City Forestry Adviser Association.
Mr. Kochi Sasaki, project in charge in OISCA Natori Office mentioned the need of molding professionals to lessen the possibility of seedlings mortality. The poor soil condition and the exposure of the planting site to the harsh weather condition are some of the factors that hinder the survival of the seedlings. Moreover, the seedlings are very limited and therefore very valuable that they could not take the risk of high mortality because of improper handlings.
This year, in collaboration with the tsunami victims, local and national government of Japan, forest experts and public and private companies; a total of 75,000 black pine seedlings and 270 broad leaf species of seedlings were planted in the 15 hectares coastal area of Natori City.
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