Forests and Wood Utilization in Japan Presentation in WFC 2015 by Forestry Agency Japan(2015/10/16)

During the World Forestry Congress (WFC) 2015, there was a sub theme dialogue titled as Encouraging product innovation and sustainable trade. On 8th September, its second session "Bringing wood from sustainable forest to our home and life" was held. This session was particularly targeted the consumers in the developed countries, which is quite different from other themes in WFC, which generally focuses on developing countries issues.

Keynote1 Mr Michael Green Principal - Architect Michael Green Architecture (MGA)
Keynote2 Mr Antti Marjokorpi Head of Forests, Plantations and Land Use, Global Responsibility Stora Enso

After two keynote speeches, Mr. Oki, Deputy Director General- Japan Forestry Agency addressed his presentation as a panelist.

Report from Japan Mr. Shuji Oki,Deputy Drector General of Japanese Forestry Agency
This post introduces his presentation "Forests and Wood Utilization in Japan"

  Thank you, Mr. Oliver.
My name is Shuji OKI, Deputy Director-General of Forestry Agency, Japan.
It is my great pleasure to have the opportunity to make a presentation at this World Forestry Congress in South Africa.
Now, I would like to talk about "Forests and wood utilization in Japan"
  In my presentation, I would like to explain wooden buildings in Japan, our forest resources, and our efforts to increase demand for wood products.
   1. Wooden buildings in Japan

(1) There are many historical buildings with wooden structure all over Japan.
The photograph on the left shows Five-storied Pagoda of Horyuji(法隆寺)-Temple in Nara. It was built in the 7th century, the oldest wooden construction in the world.

(2) Today, high-rise buildings are basically non-wood construction, but as to housing, Japanese people prefer wooden houses, and 80 (eighty) % of houses are wooden buildings.
Wooden houses are built even in the regions affected by earthquake and tsunami in 2011 as the photo on the right shows.
  2.Forest resources in Japan

Now let me talk about forests in Japan.
The area of forests is 25 million hectares and the forest rate, the percentage of the land covered with forests, is about 70 (seventy) %, almost the same as Finland and Sweden.
The growing stock is 4.9 (four-point-nine) billion cubic meters now. The growing stock has increased 2.6 (two-point-six) times in total, and 5.4 (five-point-four) times for man-made forests over the last 50 years.
We are very happy that the growing stock increases by about 100 million cubic meters annually in recent years.
  3.Supply and demand for wood

Now I would like to show you the amount of wood consumption in Japan.
The total demand for wood is 74 million cubic meters on a log volume basis. The main uses of wood are sawn timber, plywood, and pulp and chip for paper.
On the other hand, the pie chart on the right shows that imports account for about 70 % of the total supply, and domestic wood accounts for 21 million cubic meters, that is, only 30 % of the total supply.
Growing stock increases by about 100 million cubic meters annually, but only 21 million cubic meters or 20 % of the annual increment of the growing stock is used. Under-utilization of forest resources is our serious problem today.
  4.Importance of wood use

Let me touch upon the importance of wood use.
Please look at the drawing in the lower right. This drawing explains the relationship between forestry production and use of wood. Without forestry production, we cannot enjoy stable supply of wood. Without use of wood, forestry production cannot continue. We must understand that forestry production and wood use are mutually supportive.
In addition, if forestry production does not continue properly, multifunctional role of forests will be not performed properly.
As I mentioned earlier, Japan's forest stock continues to grow, but only a small portion of forest stock is used. If we find new needs or demand for wood and expand use of wood significantly, this will also help revitalize forestry and rural communities.
  5. Policy direction for expansion of wood use

Where can we find new uses or demand for wood ?
Wooden building rate is very low for apartment houses, and non-residential buildings like public facilities.
For this reason, efforts have been made to develop wood products to be used for mid- or high- rise buildings.
On the other hand, the national policy for building of public facilities was non-wood construction for a long time, but this was changed by the Act for Promotion of Use of Wood in Public Buildings enacted in 2010. Wood use in public facilities as much as possible is the new policy now.
As of July 2015, all ministries, all prefectural governments and about 85% of all municipalities have established their own policies on wood use.
Now we have to focus on remaining municipalities in the urban areas with very low rate of wooden building in order to facilitate establishment of their policies on wood use as soon as possible.
Lastly, our government has a procurement policy that wood or wood products coming from illegal logging should not be used. I would like to remind you of this policy on this occasion.
  6. R&D of manufacturing technologies for wood products

This slide shows efforts on development and research on CLT(cross laminated timber) and use of fire-resistant wooden building materials.
CLT attracts a lot of attention in Japan, and a full-size test of building using CLT is underway.
Fire-resistant glulam has been developed and used to construct a large-scale shopping center for example.
In addition, 2 by 4 lumber and LVL is used to build large wooden buildings.
  7. Conclusion

This last slide summaries the main points in my presentation so far.
I will not repeat them, but it is my belief and also common understanding in Japan that use of wood is necessary to sustain forestry as an industry and even the multifunctional role of forest.
I would like to conclude my presentation by saying that promotion of wood use is an integral part of sustainable forest management.
Thank you very much for your attention.