Study of an environmental protection through a primeval forest tour

Japanese modern lifestyle

Hello, this is Yuko.

The other day, I went to an experience tour of a certain environmental protection group. Today, I would like to share what I learned with you.

Let’s think about the environment together!

The forest tour

The experience tour I participated in is called the “Primitive Forest Tour”. It is a tour to enter the forest that maintains the pristine ecosystem and we can learn about the original forest.

An environmental protection organization, “Japan Kumamori Association”

It is organized by an environmental protection organization: General Incorporated Foundation “Japan Kumamori Association”. The name of the Japan Kumamori Association, Kuma means bear and Mori means forest.

The wish is to “revive the forest where bears can live”. This is because bears can live and coexist without attacking people in a forest that maintains its natural ecosystem. (Of course, not only bears but other animals as well.)

What I learned

This tour was learning about the differences between “artificial forests,” “natural forests,” and “primitive forests” and also the ecosystem.

Artificial Forests

Forests where people have artificially planted trees. Many cedars and cypresses are overcrowded. The leaves of cedar and cypress block sunlight, so there are not many vegetation in the lower layers.

Natural Forests

There are various kinds of plants, and there are spaces between the trees. In addition, the leaves of deciduous broad-leaved trees allow sunlight to pass through to the lower layers. However, in many cases, human intervention is involved in maintaining the ecosystem.

Primitive Forests

The ecosystem is the same as that of natural forest, and it is a forest that is completely untouched by humans.

The current forests situation

Forest situation in Japan

70% of Japan’s land area is forest, but currently 40% of it is artificial forest.

The reason for the increase in planted forests is that we planted cedar and cypress for use as materials for homes. However, because imported materials from overseas were far cheaper, cedar and cypress were left as they were, and they continue to this day.

Collapsed ecosystem

When the number of planted forests increases, problems occur such as,

  • Since the roots are small, sediment-related disasters and wind and snow damage are likely to occur.
  • Since no light comes in, low-rise trees do not grow and there are no insects → Insect-borne flowers cannot be pollinated and there is no fruit → Animal food shortage → Haunting in the community
  • Since there are no low-rise trees, it is difficult for water to seep into the ground, and the water retention capacity is weak.

Therefore, in recent years, the number of cases in which bears and wild boars attack people is increasing.

In addition to the steadily collapsing forest ecosystems, damage is actually occurring, such as attacking humans and depleting drinking water.

To increase natural forest

Many nature conservation organizations, including the Japan Kumamori Association, are making various efforts to increase natural forests.

Direct activities include planting trees, protecting wild animals and raising them for a while before returning to the forest, and sprinkling nuts, which are the food for wild animals, on the mountains.

Indirect activities include enlightenment activities to raise interest and knowledge about the natural environment by holding tours like this one and having many people participate.

However, since the number of personnel and the number of these activities are still small, we cannot expect dramatic results. The situation is going up and down.

A stream made of natural spring water

What we can do

Do not destroy the forest ecosystem

The first is not to destroy the ecosystem anymore. We rarely go into forests and cut trees, but when we go into natural or primeval forests, don’t touch the leaves, flowers, or fruits, just observe them.

Also, even if you cannot plant trees directly, never do anything that could lead to environmental destruction (such as not properly separating garbage or illegal dumping).

Deepen your knowledge of nature

It is also very important that we have the right knowledge about environmental protection. I couldn’t explain the difference between natural and planted forests until I took this tour. However, by participating in this tour, I was able to realize for myself how tight the forest situation in Japan is.

I’m sure everyone has the same idea that “We should protect the environment” and “Destruction of nature is not good”. I think that more effective measures can be taken if the specific current situation is grasped there.

A world where humans and nature can coexist

We enjoy various blessings from nature. And while destroying nature is a moment, it takes a lot of time and effort to recover.

Japanese ancestors have been in awe of nature and animals, and have lived and coexisted well.
I would like to carefully protect the abundant forest that remains, with the actions of each of us.

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