Fifth Tree Planting Ceremony at OISCA Coastal Forest Restoration Project Site in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture
A total of 530 people planted on May 19 about 9,000 black pine seedlings over 1.87 hectares of land at the coastal area of Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture to restore the seashore forest badly damaged by the devastating tsunami disaster in March 2011.
The tree planting event was organized by OISCA and the Association for the Coastal Forest Restoration in Natori City, a group consisting of the disaster-affected local farmers, and it is the fifth of its kind since the first one in 2014. The majority of the participants comprised Natori City residents and many others came from different municipalities of Miyagi Prefecture. As with the case of last year, young people, mostly local senior high school students accounted for about 25% of all the volunteers.
At the outset of the event, the opening ceremony was held near the tree planting site. Mr. Eiiji Suzuki, President of the Association for the Coastal Forest, made an opening speech welcoming all the participants and expressing deep appreciation for the generous support from private corporations and organizations as well as individual supporters. It was followed by short remarks delivered by Ms. Etsuko Nakano, President of OISCA Japan, Mr. Shiro Yamada, Natori City Mayor, and high-ranking officials from the Tohoku Regional Forest Office, Forestry Agency and also the Miyagi Prefectural Government.
After the opening ceremony, all the participants divided into 22 groups and guided by professional forestry workers, proceeded to the planting sections located near the tide breakwater. Besides the Japanese participants, there were a few foreigners who braved to volunteer for the field work. Among them were two Filipino young men, Mr. Manahan Roberto Bartolome and Salvador John Philip Mallari, who are undergoing technical intern training in hog farming at a piggery in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It was their second time to take part in the tree planting event. They said: “we experienced tree planting last year, so we are now quite familiar with the proper way of planting seedlings. We are very glad to make a small contribution to the restoration of the lost forest.”
In the early morning of the day, it rained hard in the Natori area. By the time the tree planting work started, however, the weather significantly improved and turned into a sunny day. The favorable weather and the soft sandy land have greatly facilitated the field work, and the participants managed to finish their assigned seedlings planting ahead of the scheduled time.
At the closing ceremony, several local volunteers were asked to make comments on their participation. One of them is Mr. Shigeyuki Sakurai, a staff of ANA Group which has been faithfully supporting the OISCA project since the beginning. He revealed that he was born at the area just 200 meters away from the tree planting site in Natori and that his parents’ home was washed away by the 2011 tsunami disaster. His disaster-affected parents are core members of the Association for the Restoration of Coastal Forest. “When I looked down my native community from the air on the way to the nearby Sendai Airport a few months after the disaster, I really felt saddened to see our house was totally gone. I realized that I have to do something in my small way to help restore our beloved homeland. That’s why I have been participating in tree planting together with my family members and office colleagues.”
The Coastal Forest Restoration Project is aimed to rehabilitate the badly damaged disaster prevention seashore forest by planting 500,000 black pine and other tree species over 100 hectares of land in 10 years up until 2020. Out of the 100 hectares of land covered, the total area available for actual planting is about 70 hectares except for zones designated for the protection of biodiversity, cycling roads, work ways, and windbreak fences. So far, approximately 350,000 seedlings have been planted over 66.71 hectares. As against the initial target, nearly 97% of the work has been completed.