Nithin Coca: Lessons from Japan's Reforestation


Nishiawakura’s landscape may look natural, but in fact it’s the result of a large-scale tree-planting initiative. During World War II, huge swaths of forested countryside were cut down to provide energy for Japan’s war efforts, according to Marten. After the war, a booming demand for timber, primarily to aid in reconstruction, resulted in even more forest loss. When the government began reforesting, it did so in a way that prioritized things other than biodiversity, and today the country is paying a steep price both ecologically and financially.

As momentum grows around the world for reforestation, due in part to the need to sequester carbon, Japan’s experience can inform countries like China, Pakistan and India, which aim to plant millions of trees in the coming years after decades of deforestation due to economic growth, expansion of agriculture and demand for wood as a fuel.