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
The actual thinning process
The actual thinning process

We are thankful to all our GlobalGiving donors for supporting our project. It is now on its second phase wherein activities mostly focus on site maintenance- improvement of site water drainage, weeding (kuzu, nise acacia and fuji tsuru), and thinning. The thinning process is crucial for the growth of broad, tall, and sturdy tree trunks, promotes the horizontal and deep rooting of black-pines, and to prevent the withering of the lower branches of black-pines. These factors guarantee the creation of a strong and resilient forest (different from the pre-tsunami coastal forest) that will protect local communities from disasters.

 According to the experts, pre-tsunami coastal forests were congested with almost 10,000 standing black-pines per hectare. Without any thinning, the trees were weak with no sturdy trunks, and since they were planted closely, the trees were not able to expand their roots both horizontally and vertically. Moreover, as a result of not doing any thinning, lower branches of pre-tsunami black-pines have withered.

 We are the pioneer organization to do thinning the coastal forests of Japan. We officially started the thinning process early January through March this year. We will be removing 1,650 trees or 33% of the 5,000 standing trees per hectare. As we are targeting to do it in an area of 10 hectares, a total of 16,500 black-pines will be cut. We will do the same process for 7 straight years. We will be needing the amount of 170,000 USD per year (just for thinning and the sustainable disposal of the thinned trees). The central and prefectural government of Japan committed to shoulder the 50% cost for this year and next year.

 Meanwhile, due to corona, there was a decline in the number of volunteers from outside Miyagi Prefecture. We received several requests expressing their intention to help, but we have no choice but to decline to comply with the government`s safety protocols. In spite of this, the increase in the number of local volunteers compensated the absence of outside volunteers. Equipped with strong volunteer spirit and deep understanding of how meaningful their contributions are, local volunteers are willing to volunteer for an average of 8 hours to help us maintain our project site. While other organizations are struggling from engaging volunteers (both local and outside volunteers), our group of volunteers keeps on getting bigger and it is heartwarming because they keep on returning. We were able to mobilize 237 volunteers this year, which is almost 8 times lower than the 1,800 average of volunteers that we have before corona. Under much safer condition, we are looking forward to working with the volunteers from the different parts of Japan or from abroad.

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It has been 10 years since we started our Coastal Forest Restoration in March 2011 with the support of many people around the world. All 370,000 Japanese black pine trees were planted on 100ha of land, and the larger ones are over 6m long, and strong pine trees with thick trunks are growing. Since ancient times, it was always believed that the quality of seedlings is crucial to the growth and survival of the planted crops. This is similar with the Japanese black pines. The Natori Coastal Forest Regeneration Association, responsible in growing good seedlings that are 30 cm tall, have thick roots, and have well-developed roots. The last 10 years haven't always been good from start to finish. At the beginning of raising seedlings, it was a series of trial and error, such as when to sow seeds, the composition and amount of fertilizer in the soil of the nursery, and the timing of disinfection. In addition, many members of the Association are self-employed and experienced farmers, and some of them did not agree with the process of growing the seedlings. Thus, stopped participating along the way. Under such circumstances, the unveiling ceremony of the stone monument was held on the 21st of July. Due to the corona disaster, the ceremony was forced to be held on a smaller scale. There were 40 people present during the ceremony including, the members of the Association responsible in growing seedlings, the professional forest workers in charge in planting and management, and OISCA staff. The former members of the Association who stopped participating in the work along the way were deeply moved by the fact that all the people involved were able to celebrate the construction of the monument. The 1,400 characters engraved in the monument are about the situation at the time of the earthquake, how OISCA became involved in coastal forest restoration, who was responsible for raising seedlings, planting, and managing. The last engraved characters convey the unprecedented great earthquake, its restoration and reconstruction, and the restoration of coastal forests to posterity. Thinning work will begin in December. All the staff will continue to make efforts to create a strong and thick coastal disaster prevention forest.

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Selective cutting of black pines
Selective cutting of black pines

We wish to extend our deepest gratitude for your continuous support to our project in Natori. Without your generosity, it would be difficult for us to implement the needed activities.

Our project is now on its second phase and despite the corona pandemic, we are working hard together with the government`s forest experts, sub-contracted forest workers, and mobilized local volunteers for the maintenance of our project site.

On May 17, we conducted a thinning trial together with the Miyagi Central Forestry experts and Matsushima General Forest. In an area of 0.12 hectare, we meticulously removed a total of 138 growing black-pine trees. For the entire process of thinning, we needed 6 people who had to work relay for the safe and efficient removal of the black-pines away from the site. One person was assigned for the actual cutting using a small chainsaw, 4 persons to carry them outside, and 1 person to load on the truck. If the cut trees are left within the project site to rot, it will become a hotbed for damaging pine worms.

Here are the three main reasons why there is a need to do thinning:

  1. Thinning will promote horizontal growth of roots which is important for growing strong, big, and sturdy individual trees tolerant to natural disturbance. This is crucial for the creation of a healthy and resilient forest that will protect the people from disasters, wind-blown sand, salt-spray, and strong wind. Moreover, the pre-tsunami black-pines were never thinned and as a result, they were easily uprooted and wiped-out by tsunami.
  2. With thinning, sunlight could freely penetrate the ground and will prevent black-pines` lower branches from withering. Both the lower and upper branches of the black-pines are crucial for the protection of the communities and their agricultural farms from disasters, wind-blown sand, salt-spray, and strong wind.
  3. Thinning encourages undergrowth expansion, plant diversity, and improve wildlife habitat. Undergrowth hampers movement of wind-blown sand/soil that can be damaging to the agricultural farms.

We initially scheduled to do thinning in 2023, but due to the unexpected fast growth of our black-pines, we felt the need to immediately reduce the number of standing trees starting this year. Following the guidelines of Japan`s Forest Agency, we are scheduled to remove at least 25% or 6,250 black-pines planted in 5-hectare 2014 site.

 

 

Loading of cut trees on the dump truck.
Loading of cut trees on the dump truck.
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Project site's aerial view
Project site's aerial view

It has been 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, and more than 10 years have passed since the project started on March 17, 2011. We are grateful that we have been able to proceed with the project with the generous support of many people from all over the world.

When the project started, the only thing that had been decided was just to regenerate the uprooted coastal forest along the coast of Natori. As for the location of the project, we had no idea who would play what role, and the outline of the project was not clear. First of all, we have to entrust the restoration of coastal forests to the central, Miyagi Prefecture, and Natori City Government, and we remember having many discussions to gain their trust. The government was initially skeptical on our capability to regenerate the 100-ha coastal forest, but their stance gradually changed as we started growing seedlings in our nursery and transplanting them in our project site.

As of January 31, 2020, 10 years later, through various funding platforms, we received donations of 811,597,999 yen or about 7.69 million dollars from all over the world, and we were able to plant 370,000 Japanese black pine trees in 72hectares. All the planting of Japanese black pine was completed this year, and from now on, we will be focusing on maintaining the planted trees.

For the 10 years from 2011 to 2020 (1st phase), we have called for donations as the first 10-year plan centered on activities to raise seedlings in our nursery and plant them in our project site. In the second and third 10-year plans from 2021 (2nd and 3rd phase), we will continue our activities centered on growing and maintaining our project site using the funds that we have raised.

It is said that tree planting is not the end of reforestation, but rather it is the start. We plan to continue the project until at least 2040 until the 370,000 black pine trees become a strong and resilient forest that will protect the lives of the Natori citizens from tsunami and storm surges.

We will take this opportunity to thank you for your generosity. Without your support, it would be difficult for us to implement all our target activities. We will no longer be accepting donations, but please be encouraged to check our website and read our blogs on the status of our project.

Thank you for your kindness and generosity.

Black pines planted 5 years ago
Black pines planted 5 years ago
Mobilized volunteer students at the project site
Mobilized volunteer students at the project site
Project stakeholders
Project stakeholders
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Mayor Shiro Yamada while planting black pines.
Mayor Shiro Yamada while planting black pines.

We are currently carrying out our last tree planting activity along the coast of Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture. This year, we covered an area of 2.18 hectares and planted it with 12,000 black pine seedlings to complete out target area of 100 hectares.

On October 6, various project stakeholders including the members of the Association for the Restoration of Coastal Forest in Natori City, government officials of Natori City led by Mayor Shiro Yamada, professional forestry workers, Ms. Etsuko Nakano, OISCA Japan President, and mobilized volunteers participated in the tree planting activity. Prior to transplanting, the black pine seedlings raised by the Association members were soaked in a polymer solution to guarantee the survival of seedlings under the extreme condition.

Natori Mayor Shiro Yamada, while struggling hard with an unfamiliar field work did his best in planting seedlings together with other participants. Boarding the 27-meter high platform, Mayor Shimada had the chance to see the aerial view of the 5-kilometer-long project. He commented: “with the help of more than 10,000 volunteers, we have come to this point. We do hope it will be a citizens’ forest in the future.”

The 10-year project was first conceived and implemented following the devastation of the coastal forest in March, 2011. So far, about 370,000 seedlings were planted and the survival rate is remarkable 99.1% since the first tree planting 7 years ago. The seedlings planted in the early stage have now grown into splendid trees over 4 meters in height. The total cost of the project including future maintenance work is estimated to amount to one billion yen to be entirely raised through donations and grants from Japanese and foreign private companies and organizations.

From March 2021, the project will move to the 2nd 10- year project mainly for maintenance work such as weeding and thinning. This tree planting event attracted a strong interest from national and local media. NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) filmed it and broadcasted as a hot news program nationally on TV and a local news radio program on the same day. Other TV and newspapers such Miyagi TV, HIGASHINIPPON Broadcasting, the YOMIURI SHIMBUN and the KAHOKUSHIMPO also carried out on site coverage and respectively reported it.

Soaking of seedlings into polymer solution.
Soaking of seedlings into polymer solution.
Project`s media coverage at the site.
Project`s media coverage at the site.
Highest trees have grown into more than 4-m high.
Highest trees have grown into more than 4-m high.
Mayor Yamada observing the project from above.
Mayor Yamada observing the project from above.
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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
$17,634 raised of $25,000 goal
 
134 donations
$7,366 to go
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