Participants of JICA-sponsored Training Course Visited Natori Project Site
On September 26, a group of foreign public officials responsible for forestry administration and research inspected the OISCA Coastal Forest Restoration Project in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture. The group comprised 7 specialists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, El Salvador, Iraq, Myanmar, Thailand, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Vietnam who were invited by JICA for 3 weeks as participants in a study program: “Ecosystem-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR)”.
The group first went up to the coastal disaster embankment to have the whole view of the OISCA planting site. Mr. Toshimichi Yoshida, Director for Coastal Forest Restoration Project, gave an overall briefing on the project. He specifically emphasized salient features of the projects such as the production of 500,000 black pine seedlings by disaster-hit local farmers, creation of employments for the local community, active participation of volunteers in the field work, close partnership with the public sector, and full utilization of private fund.
Afterwards, the group visited the OISCA nursery where black pine and red pine species raised in pots from seeds by the members of the Association for the Restoration of Coastal Forest in Natori City, an organization formed by the disaster-affected local farmers. Mr. Koichi Sasaki who is in-charge of the overall field operations of the project explained about seed sowing since March 2012 and the subsequent production of seedlings and actual planting since 2014. He stressed that on the average the germination rate marked 95% and the survival rate of the seedlings planted recorded 98%, respectively.
Finally, they moved to the coastal site where as of June 2018, a total of 346,248 black pine seedlings were planted over an area of 66.71 hectares since 2014. After the field observation, Q & A session followed. A participant from Bosnia and Herzegovina raised a question about the appropriateness of planting only black pine species pointing out that in the course of the JICA-organized classroom lectures, one of the lecturers had mentioned the advisability of mixed planting of black pine and broad-leaved species for coastal forestation. In reply to the question, Mr. Sasaki said: “Under extreme weather conditions of the coastal areas, it was proven that only black pine species can take firm roots and survive.” To follow up his statement, he brought the group to a planting area located adjacent to the OISCA site where another NPO planted a combination of black pines and broad-leaved species of trees. The participants noticed the stunted growth condition of the broad-leaved seedlings.
To conclude, entirely financed by donations and subsidies from private corporations and organizations as well as individual supporters without relying on government money, the participants appreciated the capacity of OISCA in the restoration of the tsunami-affected coastal vegetation.