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The Shrinking Profitability of Small-Scale Forestry in Japan and Some Recent Policy Initiatives to Reverse the Trend

By Ikuo Ota

Abstract

About 80% of annual wood fiber consumption in Japan is imported. Even though most of the land surface is covered by forests in Japan, the domestic forestry and forest industry are threatened by such imports flooding the local market. Fragmented land ownership, steep terrain, rapid growth of weeds, and high labor costs have all contributed to the decline of domestic forestry. Further, the purchasing power of the Japanese Yen has become very strong in recent years, and the decreasing prices of imported timber have depressed the prices of domestic timber, eroding profitability and discouraging small-scale forestry. In spite of these difficult circumstances, there are several interesting new developments in Japanese forestry. One is the revision of the Basic Forestry Law of 1964, through which the Japanese government is steering forest policy from timber production towards environmental services. Because of this change, new ways to assist rural forestry activities will become available in the near future. Another change is the certification movement, where recent examples of Japanese companies acquiring ISO 14001 and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest certifications provide hope to depressed domestic forestry activities. In particular, FSC group certification is useful in motivating small-scale forest owners to implement and maintain sustainable forestry practices

Topics: Japan, forestry, land economics, imports, viability, sustainability, 300600 Forestry Sciences, 300604 Management and Environment, 300606 Agroforestry
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:espace.library.uq.edu.au:UQ:8711

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