green tree near green plants
Photo by mali maeder on


Nearly two-thirds of Japan’s land area is covered by forests. In addition, about 40 percent of the forests are man-made, 44 percent cedar, 25 percent cypress, and 10 percent larch, according to the white paper. 31 percent are state-owned forests and 69 percent are privately owned.


As we all know, forests play a wide variety of roles, but to reiterate, they play a wide variety of roles, such as “soil conservation” (preventing surface erosion), “material production” (timber, etc.), “water source recharge” (water purification, flood mitigation), “culture” (landscape, traditional culture), and “global environmental conservation” (mitigation of global warming). It has a wide range of roles to play.


Global warming is a hot topic. It is widely known that plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. In Japan, the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed is about 45.9 million Co2 tons, of which 93% is by forests, 4% by pastures, and 3% by urban greening, etc. It is clear that forests also play an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide.


On the other hand, how much carbon dioxide does Japan emit? It is about 1.21 billion Co2 tons. This is about 26 times the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by green spaces. That’s an order of magnitude higher. There is often criticism of cutting down forests for solar power generation, but when you consider how much carbon dioxide is emitted by power generation using fossil fuels, you can’t help but feel that trying to increase carbon dioxide absorption by increasing forests is “Only a drop in the bucket”.


When we consider the phenomenon of global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions, it seems to me that the elimination of fossil fuel use in power generation and energy conservation are high priorities. As mentioned above, forests play a variety of roles, so we can expect a lot from them, but I think it is dangerous to expect too much from them, especially when it comes to carbon dioxide absorption. It is not enough to simply increase the number of forests, but it is also necessary to properly manage them by planting, nurturing, and thinning. Of course, this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and it seems that actual efforts are underway.


In 1980, there were 146,000 people working in the forestry industry, but by 2015, the number had declined to 45,000. I understand that this is a difficult situation, but I believe that forests play a major role and that we need to nurture them from a long-term perspective. I think that this is an issue that should be greatly considered by the Forestry Agency, which has jurisdiction over the issue.