Japan Data

Japan’s Forest Resources Triple Over 50 Years

Economy Society

Due to the nurturing of planted forests, Japan’s volume of forest resources has tripled in the past 50 years.

According to a report released by the Forestry Agency every five years, forest area in Japan as of the end of March 2017 was 25.05 million hectares, equivalent to two-thirds of Japan’s total area. This was a slight reduction from the 25.08 million hectares recorded in the last survey conducted in 2012. The volume of forest resources, estimated based on the growing stock (the volume of tree trunks making up the forests), stands at 5.24 billion cubic meters. This is approximately three times the volume compared to that for 1966 (1.88 billion cubic meters).

In the last 50 years, there has been no great change in the area of forest, which has remained at more than 25 million hectares.

While there were 15.51 million hectares of natural forest in 1966, this had fallen to 13.48 million hectares by 2017. However, planted forests increased from 7.93 million hectares in 1966 to 10.20 million in 2017 and now account for 40% of Japan’s forests.

In contrast, the amount of growing stock has been consistently rising from 2.48 billion cubic meters in 1981, to 3.14 billion in 1990, 4.04 billion in 2002, and 4.9 billion in 2012.

The growing stock in 1966 consisted of 1.33 billion cubic meters of natural forests, increasing to 1.93 billion in 2017. On the other hand, the volume of planted forests during the same period shot up from 0.59 billion cubic meters to 3.38 billion, indicating the considerable growth within planted forests.

The 2015 Global Forest Resources Assessment released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization states that Japan’s forest cover (ratio of forest area to land area) is 68.5%, placing it second behind Finland (73.1%) among OECD member countries. Japan also ranked seventh for volume of planted forests, a list in which China, the United States, and Russia came in the top three positions.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: The verdant mountains of Amami Ōshima in Kagoshima Prefecture, part of a World Natural Heritage candidate site. Photo taken on March 15, 2020. © Jiji.)

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