Session on safety management.
This is our second year of doing thinning. Last year, we covered an area of about 10ha, and for this year, we are scheduled to do about 15ha. This year, we will also be involving volunteers. We are the pioneer organization to conduct thinning in the area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. As we prioritize the safety of our volunteers, we intend to increase the number of people who can provide guidance and safety management. To make this possible, we organized a training session for leaders on January 21.
We had less than 30 participants, who happened to be mostly locals. The first two hours of the session were classroom-based, wherein Mr. Sasaki, the overall project manager briefed us on the project background, its progress, and its impact on the community. During his lecture, Mr. Sasaki emphasized the need of doing thinning and the importance of volunteers` safety. According to him, more than the number of felled trees, volunteers need to prioritize their safety and the people around them.
I had the opportunity to be part of last year`s thinning. However, unlike last year, I did not do the actual cutting since I do not have a license for using a chainsaw. I just helped carried the felled trees to the dropping point. I remember how it takes some power to be able to carry the cut trees. I had difficulty waking up the next day. It felt like hiking Japan`s Southern Alps while carrying my 15kg camping gear.
This year, equipped with safety gear, including a helmet with goggles, sturdy shoes, and a pair of gloves, I had the chance to do the actual cutting using a saw. There were already assigned areas where to cut to avoid confusion on our part. I have heard that professional forest workers can fall for about a minimum of 220 trees per day using their chainsaws. For us amateurs, for a couple of hours, one person could perhaps fall an average of about 10 trees.
The following factors were also emphasized during the training:
1. It is crucial to the growth of strong and sturdy trunks, as well as the horizontal, and deep-rooting of black pines. As a result, it guarantees an established strong coastal forest that protects local communities from
2. It is more cost-effective to thin out early because it is easier and cheaper to cut and dispose of black pines
while they are still young.
3. Before thinning, black pines were densely planted, and because of this, our forest professional workers
had difficulty managing the site. But after thinning, there are enough spaces for them to move comfortably
which will lessen their burdens. In the long run, it will reduce the overall site`s management cost. Furthermore, controlling vines will be easier. Otherwise, these vines, when they reach the top of the black pines will steal sunlight, and thus will inhibit the growth of the trees, or worse will kill them.
I think that carrying the felled trees to the dropping point is tougher than the actual cutting. One of the local volunteers commented that he cannot imagine how tough the work is if thinning is done in summer under the sweltering heat of the sun.
If the felled trees are too difficult for us to carry, we were advised to cut them into two. Either one felled tree is carried by two members, or it is done in a manner of the relay. Carrying the heavy and newly cut trees may be exhausting, but just thinking of its long-term impact on the coastal forest is all worth it. Moreover, the fact that everybody is doing their part and their best, regardless of age is inspiring.
Mr. Sasaki explaining the logic of thinning.
The actual cutting process done in pair.
Carrying of the felled trees to the dropping point