Why should we cultivate forests?
Today human beings owe very much to forests. The benefits defy all description; indirect materials for environmental and public goods which are indispensable for human life, such as water, oxygen etc. as well as direct economic materials such as lumber that is used to produce essential goods like construction materials, paper, tissue, etc.
Which is better? To cultivate or not to cultivate forests? Before debating on this matter we have to know that we did not have to discuss it even 100 years ago because those benefits were provided enough by forests.
But now demand exceeds supply. If we only continue using our forests, in the future the earth will be where human beings cannot live any more.
Most people agree to this prediction and the argument between conservation and utilization of the forest has started. In every country people still argue about that but no conclusion has been drawn yet. "Why can't we draw a conclusion?" or, "Is a conclusion necessary?" "Is it possible to reach a conclusion?" This argument, however, has become meaningless because we can give up neither conservation nor utilization
Therefore study and discussion to run after both conservation and utilization have been started. But if we cannot give up the direct benefits (lumber, paper, tissue etc.) the conclusion is "we have to cultivate the forest."
The reasons are as follows
Increase in economic value of forests (Increase in income)
- If forests are not cultivated, trees don't grow in diameter but only in stature because competition among trees become intense. Then they become exposed to damage by harmful insects or storm damage and economic value cannot be achieved from forests.
- In case we cultivate forests, economic value increases by three times.
- We are the second largest importer of wood, next to Japan, produced from tropical forest which is a thesaurus of diverse species. (volume of imports : $ 3,000,000,000 every year)
Increase in environmental value of forests
- If a forest is covered with bushes the sunshine which is essential for photosynthesis is screened off. Then underlayer plants have difficulty growing. As the forest grows older, underlayer plants are naturally weeded out and species become less diversified. (the older the forest is, the less underlayer plants are shown.)
- Therefore Cultivating forests makes it effective to improve growth condition of underlayer plants.
- If the sunshine is screened off due to thick forest, soil microorganisms become less active. Then fallen leaves don't rot off and growth of roots is restricted. As a result, the functions to prevent landslide and foster source of water supply become deteriorated.
- The inhabitation density of wild animals gets higher when the forest keeps a proper density rather than when it is too densely grown caused by thick underlayer plants.
- In case of birds, there are some kinds which inhabit in short bushes, such as great tits and others in tall forests, such as orioles, cuckoos, so you can't evaluate which is better.
- Even underlayer plants are eliminated, they appear again because of ability of germination. After buds are out, sunshine can freely come through by the effect of thinning. Then growth condition including activation of photosynthesis will be improved and diversification of species in ecosystem will be expected.
- It is possible to create nice views, prevent forest fire and make healthy forests by eliminating dead or decaying trees and those with inferior trunks in the suburbs of cities.
There is favorable time to cultivate forests
Cultivating forests is like educating a person step by step according to the stage of development. Missing the right time to cultivate or not cultivating at all makes the forest useless. Even though we have 2,000,000 ha of forests to cultivate, we only do 200,000 ha every year due to shortage of budget and work force. The Forest Cultivating Public Labor Project of last May by our government as one of the measures to reduce unemployment rate has given us good opportunity to cultivate forests.
Cultivating forestry plantation
First stage : Weeding stage (Kindergarten)
After planting trees we should help afforested trees grow by weeding every year for 3 to 5 years because planted trees have less fine roots and grow slower than other plants in the surroundings. As a result, it becomes easy to die under pressure.
Second stage : Cultivating young trees (elementary school)
After weeding (5 to 10 years after afforestation) we should eliminate dead trees, damaged trees by blights and harmful insects and trees or branches hindering growth of afforested trees.
Third stage : Thinning (middle and high school, 15~20 years after afforestation)
The branches and roots spread wider and become more and more competitive. Trees grow slower or weaker, so thinning and disbranching are necessary.
Fourth stage : Second thinning (university)
To produce value added trees, second thinning should be done in case that competition among trees occurs again.
Cultivating Natural forests
Nurturing natural forest (Continuing education program for the uneducated until youthhood)
It is the stage of selecting objective trees (proper future trees). They are to be raised long-term among trees in natural forests, proper for economic forests by thinning the proper future trees and removing trees that hinder growth of proper future trees (skills to differentiate proper future trees and hindering trees are necessary.
Removing winders (Removing harmful environment that hinders proper growth)
Winders should be removed because they hinder trees to grow.