Project site maintenance with the volunteers.
My name is Toshimichi Yoshida. I am Deputy Director in charge of the 10-Year Coastal Forest Restoration Project in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture which OISCA launched immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those who have generously supported our Project following the disaster. Here, I am going to report on the latest development of the Project.
In the disaster-hit area, it is now in midsummer with the daily temperature exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. It has been 4 and half years since the disaster, but we can still hear the sound of heavy machineries operating from the early morning and see many people working for the disaster recovery project under the scorching heat of the sun.
In May 2011, the disaster-affected farmers in Natori appealed to OISCA for helping in the restoration of the coastal forest indispensable for the revival of agriculture. OISCA and the local farmers have steadily been carrying out the Project in collaboration with the national and local government agencies, a large number of local residents and also volunteers from the various parts of the country.
The years up to 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics will be held, are the target period set by the government for achieving the disaster recovery. In our Project, the local farmers by themselves will produce 500,000 seedlings necessary for restoring 100 hectares of forest, and we plan to complete tree planting by 2020 but will continue the forest management up until 2033. In implementing the Project, we have decided, not to depend on public fund but to utilize private donations putting emphasis on self-reliant efforts. We intend to support the local employment and livelihood improvement by creating over 11,000 job opportunities in the area by 2033.
In March 2012, the OISCA staff and local farmers obtained qualifications in accordance with the law on raising seedlings, and conducted the first sowing of black pine seeds. In April 2014, we carried out the first planting of 80,000 seedlings raised over the previous two years and in April, 2015, also planted 50,000 new seedlings. So far, we have planted a total of 130,000 seedlings over 26 hectares of land in the two years. Although the project site is in the severe environment, right behind the tide embankment which is exposed to the sea breeze, dry and cold wind, the survival rate of seedlings is fortunately maintained almost 100%.
We have created 1,400 employment opportunities a year, and the number of volunteers who do weeding work for 8 hours a day has marked 1,400 persons. We have annually organized 30 report meetings and seminars, and more than 4,500 people have attended.
Both the government and the private sector have been working very hard for the disaster recovery based on the overall recovery plan. But there are a number of areas which are not recovering as have been expected. There are such problems as a serious shortage of skilled personnel, soaring labor costs and lack of construction materials.
Furthermore, there are now noticeable disparities of lifestyle between those who have been hit by the disaster and those who have not been affected, and between those who moved to new houses leaving temporary housing facilities and those who are still staying at temporary shelters. The traditional communities have collapsed, and those economically vulnerable such as elderly people are particularly isolated in the society. The locals all have the same feeling for recovery, but the actual situation is not simple at all.
Many of those who survived in the devastating tsunami still do not feel like going to the seaside. I know a number of people who have abstained from their favorite fishing in the sea.
Against this background, we are determined to accomplish the restoration of coastal forest, the old Japanese crystal of wisdom, which protects agriculture and living from the sea breeze, thereby playing a part in the creative recovery of the Tohoku Region.
We will make the Project a success by all means.
Once again, we thank you for your cooperation and are requesting anew for your continued support.
Project site monitoring.
Volunteers making canal for good drainage
Seedling planted in 2014 is now 1.15 m tall.