How are Japanese industrial plantations operated overseas?

{Ƃ̐Aђn Forest covers 67% of the Japanese land. More than 10 million hectares of artificial forests are grown. However, it is steep in configuration of the ground, which means expensive costs in forest operations. In addition, labor force is dwindling in the forest industry.

While operating plantations overseas, it entails exposure to such risks as disordered conditions of local societies, fluctuation in exchange rates of currencies, drought, disease and insect damage, forest fire and other natural phenomena. However, there are such benefits as large-scale operations, mechanization and fast growing.

As of the end of 2000, Japanese firms operate 292,000 hectares of plantations in 30 overseas projects in 9 countries, primarily in the Southern Hemisphere.

Preliminary surveys take a diverse at land slotted for plantation before a project starts to determine its suitability in terms of natural conditions, socioeconomic conditions and other factors. Japanese firms have conducted several trial afforestation projects in Australia, Southeast Asia and other regions.

Plantation requires a broad base of preparation including negotiating with governmental officers and local people, complying with established labor conditions, providing technologies and procuring funds.

c There are many different ways to implement a plantation and they vary by country and region. In some places, all the work is done by hand; in others it is highly mechanized and heavy machinery is used from preparing the ground to the final stage of harvesting. Since plantation makes use of the country's land over a long-period and deeply involves the people who live in the area, many projects hire local labors, distribute seedling and also promote agroforestry in parts of the plantation site. Projects also and seek to foster coexistence and co-prosperity with local communities by constructing roads.

In remote areas, plantations create employment opportunities for local communities and also contribute to the improvement of social foundations through building infrastructure, such as roads, ports and bridges. They also inspire new industries, such as chip plants to process the timbers that are harvested about 10 years after planting. Chip plants that process such material have already begun operation in Papua New Guinea and Chile; and in the near future, all plantation projects will feature the production of wood chips from harvested timber for export to Japan.

The principle behind commercial plantations in the Japanese pulp and paper industry is to "plant trees that we have consumed", and all members will continue to implement plantations in this spirit.

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