Current Situation of OISCA Coastal Forest Restoration Project in Natori
It’s been 9 years since the Pacific coastal areas of the Tohoku (Northeast Japan) was stricken by the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. Coastal forests in the region including Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture were severely damaged by the Tsunami disaster in the wake of the earthquake.
Immediately after the occurrence of the disaster, OISCA conceived a 10-year project for the restoration of coastal forest on the seashore of Natori City and started implementing it. Since that time, the project has been making steady progress. Here are details of the current progress.
In April 2014, full-fledged tree planting of black pine and other species started at the project site. As of November 2019, a total of 350,848 seedlings were planted over 68.71 hectares of land except for areas designated for protecting biodiversity, cycling road, work road, mounded areas, etc., thus completing the initially planned number. What is remaining is additional 6 hectares at old residential land and former horseback riding site to be planted in 2020. Black pine trees planted in the spring 2014 have now grown into 5 meters high.
A total number of volunteers participating in tree planting, weeding and other field works reached 11,365 persons. Out of these number, half were repeaters while the other half were new comers. The project has created a significant number of employment opportunities to the local community. The total number of people employed for raising seedlings, tree planting and silvicultural works is 7,469 persons, mostly locals. By 2033, the number of the people employed is expected to reach about 11,400.
As of October 2019, we have received generous donations and grants amounting to 750,000,000 yen for carrying out the project from private corporations and organizations as well as from private individuals. Out of this amount, OISCA started saving a reserve fund for the future silvicultural works after 2021. The target amount is about 300 million yen.
The 10-year Coastal Forest Restoration Project will be over in March 2021 and is expected to be taken over by the second 10-year project. Based on the valuable experience and expertise gained in the Coastal Forest Restoration Project in Natori, OISCA intends to promote Eco-DRR (sustainable management, conservation and restoration of ecosystems to reduce disaster risk, with the aim to achieve sustainable and resilient development) in overseas projects. An on-site training session for deepening the understanding of Eco-DRR was organized in early October 2019 with the participation of field staff in charge of large-scale greening projects from Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and China. In Tokyo, the participants got a briefing from the relevant official of the Forestry Agency and participated in a special seminar devoted to Eco-DRR. In Miyagi, they met with a high-ranking official of the Prefectural Government, visited a school forest, observed the Coastal Forest Restoration Project site and experienced field work together with volunteers. Lastly, they visited Ashio, Tochigi Prefecture to learn the experience of recovering from the forest fire occurred 100 years ago and smoke damage of the Ashio copper mine.
As with the case of the previous years, a batch of foreign public officials responsible for forestry management and research made an on-site observation tour in Natori in early November 2019. The group comprised 12 specialists from Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Laos, Malawi, Myanmar, and the Republic of North Macedonia who were invited by JICA as participants in a study program: “Ecosystem-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR). Mr. Toshimichi Yoshida, Director for Coastal Forest Restoration Project, gave a comprehensive briefing on the project and then, guided them to the project site.
The same month, two high-ranking officials from the Ministry of the Interior, Indonesia which is prone to natural disasters like Japan, visited the Natori project site. The Interior Ministry oversees foreign organizations operating in Indonesia. In addition to observing the OISCA project site, they also inspected the seawalls, elevated roads and an evacuation tower constructed after the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster.
As the last foreign visitor to the Natori project site, H. E. Mr. Ibrahim Uvais, Ambassador of the Maldives, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean, paid an observation tour in early December. On the occasion of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the Maldives people numbering only 400,000 vigorously conducted fund raising activities and raised donations of 4.6 million yen. The Maldives government donated 86,400 pieces of canned tuna and the private sector also sent 600,000 pieces to the Japanese disaster victims. Mr. Yasuaki Nagaishi, Senior Managing Director of OISCA, accompanied and guided the Ambassador not only to the Natori project site but also the other coastal facilities affected by the Tsunami disasters in Sendai.
In 2020, additional tree planting will be carried out at the former residential area and horseback riding site. As for silvicultural works, weeding, vine cutting, thinning, and drainage digging are planned with the cooperation of forestry businesses and volunteers.