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Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest

by OISCA International
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Restore 100 Hectares of the Miyagi Coastal Forest
Maintenance of the project site by the volunteers.
Maintenance of the project site by the volunteers.

Black pine trees sown in the spring of 2012 have now grown into 5 meters high (same height of an adult giraffe). It has been 8 and a half years since the start of our project and we have raised 72% (as of the end of August 2019) of the needed fund. We are deeply appreciative of your generous support.

We have mobilized a total of 10,920 volunteers who helped us in nurturing the planted black pines. We value the presence of the volunteers and we do not consider them as a free workforce. In this regard, we let them understand the significance of coastal forest, the importance of the field work, and the immediate need of carrying the work now. We use tools such as hoes and sickles in the field work. We are grateful that we have not encountered any major accidents or injuries. We think that it is because the participants understood well the working environment and they have a strong grasp of the content and value of the field work.

After finishing tidying up the tools, we gather all the volunteers and ask 5 participants of their impressions. A common answer is that they get attached with the black pine and are looking forward to seeing their growth. It may not be scientific, but we believe that the love of the more than 10,000 people who get involved with the project helped in the steady growth of the black pines. One volunteer commented that she maybe weak, but not helpless, and that her contribution can not be done by machines. One person can do little work in one day, yet the power of 10,000 people is a great force.

Meanwhile, one volunteer who happened to be a staff of IBEX Airlines (aircraft expert) based at Sendai Airport mentioned about the anti-fog effect of coastal forest. He clearly understood the significance of growing black pines and its impact to his work, so he is committed to continue volunteering.

It might take time before the coastal forest fully function as a green infrastructure and will impact the life of the local people. We intend to continue nurturing our black pines with the help of our volunteers and expert forest workers. We would like to solicit for your continued and warm support.

Briefing prior to the actual site maintenance.
Briefing prior to the actual site maintenance.
Project site`s aerial view with the volunteers.
Project site`s aerial view with the volunteers.
Volunteers while sharing their impressions.
Volunteers while sharing their impressions.
Aerial view of our reforestation project
Aerial view of our reforestation project

It has been eight years since we started our project and we are now on the process of transitioning to another level. During the project`s peak period, rows of 8,900 pots containing 200,000 seedlings were a common sighting at the nursery. In the summer season, it takes four hours for two members of the Association for the Restoration of Coastal Forest in Natori to water the seedlings.

Since 2014, we planted a total of 350,000 black-pine seedlings in an area of 67 hectares. At the nursery, we are raising seedlings to plant in 6-hectare area in 2020. Despite the poor soil condition, the black-pines have grown noticeable fast that the highest reached up to 4-meter high. The growth speed is faster than initially predicted and to have a healthy coastal forest, full-fledged thinning is necessary in a few years.

Meanwhile, the wooden windbreak fences that protected the black-pines from cold and dry wind are now gradually degrading. In preparation for the smooth thinning process in the future, we intend to remove these fences.

The increase of vegetation in our project site contributed to the gradual restoration of the area`s biodiversity as manifested by the presence of racoons, weasels, raptors, dragonflies, and reappearance of known to be extinct species of plants.

In March 2019, Miyagi Prefectural Government established a Disaster Prevention Forest Review Committee involving the local government with coastal forests. The committee aims to study future management system of the coastal forests in terms of preventing and mitigating disasters.

While the field is steadily changing, the outpour of support from private corporations, organizations, and private individuals is still consistent. The letter with a message “I am very glad to see that green is steadily regenerated by the people with good intentions in a wide and harsh environment” that we received from one of our supporters is heartwarming.

We are heartily grateful to the supporters of our project.

Our project supports the return of wildlife.
Our project supports the return of wildlife.
Growing black-pines and the degrading wooden fence
Growing black-pines and the degrading wooden fence
Volunteers maintaining our nursery.
Volunteers maintaining our nursery.
Forest experts while visiting the project site.
Forest experts while visiting the project site.

It has been 8 years since we started implementing our Coastal Forest Restoration Project in Natori. Since the beginning, we have been receiving financial support from many people around the world, including the GlobalGiving supporters. We would like to express sincere appreciation for your support. Your generosity enables us to to carry out the project as planned.

Our project in Natori now serves as a model coastal reforestation project constantly visited by foreign experts and decision makers. Over the past 8 years, we have received more than 100 non-Japanese from 60 different countries, including a Mayor whose municipality was severely affected by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the reforestation related techniques that we have developed while implementing the project are now being adopted by our local counterparts outside Japan. Such technique includes the use of water absorbing polymer to improve the water absorption of the newly planted seedlings, which is crucial to their survival. This technique is now applied in our reforestation project to combat the desertification problem in Inner Mongolia, China, as well as in our reforestation projects in the Philippines and Thailand.

Now that we are on the second stage of the project implementation, we will incorporate the concept of Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (ECO-DRR), not only in Natori but also in foreign countries threatened by natural disasters, to help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

We would like to request for your continued support.

A UN representative visiting our project.
A UN representative visiting our project.
Learning of how to use the polymer solution.
Learning of how to use the polymer solution.
The author with a local staff.
The author with a local staff.

I am very appreciative of the fact that the Coastal Forest Restoration Project is steadily being carried out because of the generous support and cooperation not only by the Japanese and private corporations but also by many people worldwide, including the GlobalGiving donors.

One of the central figures of the 10-year Project for the Restoration of Coastal Forest in Natori City is Mr. Toshimichi Toshida, Director for Coastal Forest Restoration Project. Equipped with his skills and experiences gained from involving in overseas reforestation project of OISCA, he is aware that a reforestation project is not just a 3-year tree planting activity. During the initial planning of the project in March 2011, Mr. Yoshida, though initially announced a 10-year plan, was prepared to continue it for 20 years. His strong determination, and not the instructions from the organization or boss, has become the source of energy for promoting the project, and this point may be the characteristic and advantage of OISCA as an international NGO.

The project is now gaining support and recognition within and outside Japan. We attributed the 99.8% survival rate of the planted seedlings from the experiences that we have acquired from implementing reforestation projects overseas. In our reforestation sites outside Japan, 90% is considered to be a fair success, and it is rare to seek further. I personally think that the Japanese national characters such as commitment, diligence, and strong sense of responsibility are factors that brought the high survival rate.

Meanwhile, in our other reforestation projects, it is hard to meet someone like Mr. Kouichi Sasaki, Field Manager at the Natori project site (formerly staff of the Forestry Agency), who has severity for work and high management ability as a professional forestry expert. Moreover, the members of the “Association for the Restoration of Coastal Forest in Natori City” who are raising seedlings are professional agriculturists. Though lacking experience in forestry, most of them are engaged in agriculture and raising high quality vegetables. They are utilizing their agricultural experience in raising seedlings. That is why they have developed into a professional group which is not satisfied with 90% of survival rate but persistently pursues 100%.

We are upscaling good practices and intend to replicate our project within and outside Japan. The Coastal Forest Restoration Project in Natori now serves as a model site wherein foreign government forestry officials and our local overseas project staff are visiting and learning from the project in terms of technical know-how, commitment, and pursuing excellence. This we do to somehow give back from the support that we have been receiving. We request for your continued cooperation.

We intend to do technical transfer to somehow give back to the support from the foreign countries. We request for your continued support.

Every year, there are a great number of Japanese and foreigner visitors who come to OISCA Coastal Forest Restoration Project site located on the coastal area of Natori City. Among them, there is one group of foreigners who are quite different from the other visitors. They are all government specialists in forestry administration and disaster risk reduction and management in their respective countries. They are invited by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for 3-weeks study program entitled “Ecosystem-based Solution for Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR)” consisting of class room lectures and on-site tours in various parts of Japan.

There are of course many other disaster-hit areas in Tohoku Region where the national government, local government bodies and citizens’ groups are actively conducting tree-planting and promoting various measures for reducing disaster risk and mitigating damage. But why OISCA project has been chosen for their on-site tour? I personally assume it is because OISCA is the only NGO which is successfully implementing an integrated approach starting from fund-raising, seedling production, tree planting and up to post-planting maintenance and management of the site. It has been made possible by generous financial support from many private companies and organizations including the Global Giving.

On September 26, 7 officials from Bosnia and Herzegovina, El Salvador, Iraq, Myanmar, Thailand, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Vietnam came over to the Natori site on a half-day observation tour. Earlier in the morning, they visited the ruins of Arahama Elementary School in Sendai City which was devastated by the tsunami disaster in March 2011 and fully realized the immense destructive power of the natural calamity.

After arriving in Natori, the group first went up to the coastal disaster embankment to have the whole view of the OISCA reforestation site. It was a sunny day. Looking at the calm sea, they could not simply believe that the unprecedented scale of tidal waves swept through the entire area wiping out the original seashore forest and nearby community. Mr. Toshimichi Yoshida, Director for Coastal Forest Restoration Project, gave a general briefing on the project. He told that the project was originally conceived just a few days following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster. Looking out over the disaster-affected area on a helicopter, he thought that it would be possible for OISCA to utilize in one way or another the rich experiences and expertise previously gained in other projects overseas for restoring the destroyed coastal forest in Natori. He emphasized the salient features of the project, specifically the production of 500,000 black pine seedlings by disaster-hit local farmers, creation of job opportunities for the local community, active participation of Japanese and foreign volunteers in the field work such as tree planting and weeding, close collaboration with the public sector and full utilization of private fund.

Then, the group visited the OISCA nursery where the members of the Association for the Restoration of Coastal Forest in Natori City, an organization formed by the disaster victim farmers, have been raising in pots black pine and red pine species. Mr. Koichi Sasaki who is responsible for the overall field operations of the project explained about seed sowing since March 2012 and the subsequent production of seedlings and actual planting at the site since 2014. When he revealed that on the average the germination rate marked 95% and the survival rate of the planted seedlings recorded 98%, respectively, the visiting specialists all showed a big surprise reaction. They commented that normally, if the figures were something like 60%, it would be quite satisfactory.

Finally, they moved to the planting site where by June 2018, a total of 346,248 black pine seedlings were planted over an area of 66.71 hectares. In a Q & A session following the field observation, a participant from Bosnia and Herzegovina raised a question about the appropriates of planting only black pine species citing the statement of a lecturer of the JICA-organized class room lecture to the effect that it would be advisable to carry out mixed planting of black pine and broad-leaved species for coastal forestation. Mr. Sasaki replied; “Under the extremely severe natural conditions of the coastal areas, it has been proven by experience that only black pine species can take firm roots and manage to survive.” To follow up his explanation, he brought the group to a planting area located just adjacent to the OISCA site where another NPO planted a combination of black pines and broad-leaved species of trees. They clearly noticed the poor growth condition of the broad-leaved seedlings while the black pine species were showing normal growth.

To conclude the on-site tour, they were asked for personal impressions and observations. The participants unanimously expressed deep admiration that the 10-year project is entirely financed by donations and subsidies from private companies and organizations as well as individual supporters without depending on government money at all. Also, they were impressed that the planted seedlings are well maintained by the hands of professional forestry workers and volunteers. We are always appreciative for the continued and generous support from the Global Giving.

 

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Organization Information

OISCA International

Location: Suginami-ku, Tokyo - Japan
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Ma. Grazen Acerit
Suginami-ku, Tokyo Japan
$14,115 raised of $25,000 goal
 
79 donations
$10,885 to go
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