What’s Kinshizen Forestry?

# English published below
 

近自然森づくりとは?

人類はこれからの新しい時代をいかに生き延びていけばよいのか。そして、できれば豊かに生き延びることを追求し、これまで対立軸と考えられてきた「環境」と「豊かさ」を両立させようというニューパラダイムが近自然、このための原則を体系化したものが近自然学(山脇,2004)です。

スイス・ドイツに生まれた近自然の考え方は、川づくり、道づくり、教育、経営などに応用されてきました。そして近年、世界的な資源不足や生物多様性の低下、度重なる自然災害などを背景に、近自然の森づくりへの応用が注目されています。

環境と豊かさの両立を進むべき方向(ビジョン)として、生物多様性、安全性、水源涵養、気持良さ、太陽エネルギーの有効利用、教育効果、雇用促進、森林文化の醸成などと林業経営とを持続的に両立させることを目標(ゴール)とするのが「近自然森づくり」。

環境貢献に配慮した森林管理は、地力を含めた資産価値の向上により投資対象としての持続性を担保することで林業経営に貢献し、健全な林業経営は持続的な森林管理のための資本を生み出し、環境に貢献します。すなわち元本に手をつける略奪林業から利子で食べる持続林業へ。

近自然森づくりの一つの手法として「陽光林」が提唱されています(岡村,2011)。陽光林は「収穫が手入れになる択伐と天然更新をベースとした在来種の明るい複層針広混交林」の意で、生物多様性などの公益的機能の確保と、多品目少量生産と再投資コストの抑制による経営の安定化を両立させようとするものです。


 

近自然森づくり・陽光林施業を実現するには、どの木をどう育て、いつどこに売れば利益が多くなり、同時にエコロジーや防災などの要求を満たすことができるか、 地域の森と市場を熟知するエキスパートの存在が不可欠です。これが「フォレスター」。

フォレスターは、奥地山林から都市近郊林まで幅広いフィールドを持ち、木質バイオマスのサプライチェーン(生産、加工、流通、消費)に、さらに地域のコミュニティーに広く関わる存在です。その本質はスペシャリスト(専門家)ではなくユニバーサリスト(万能家)と言えるでしょう。

これからの新しい時代を生き延びるための人材を、スペシャリストからユニバーサリストに求めることは、近自然学の重要な原則の一つ「パーツ思考からシステム思考へのパラダイムシフト」に基づくものです。

スイスを始めとする中欧諸国では、フォレスター教育制度が確立されており、持続可能な森林管理と林業経営が体系的に引き継がれていくことが担保されています。日本でもこのような人材を育てることができないだろうか。たまたま人材がいて上手く行っている、のではなく、継続的に人材が輩出できるよう体系化したい。それが近自然森づくり研究会のテーマです。

近自然森づくりとは、一つ一つの技術あるいはその集合体を指すのではなく、人と森林が共存共栄するためのシステムづくりと表現できるでしょう。
 
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What’s Kinshizen Forestry?

In what way should the human race live through the new age that is beginning now? The concept of Kinshizen, or “close-to-nature” is a new paradigm that refers to living as good a life as possible, which strikes a balance between the environment and wealth, two concepts which we have thought of as contradictory up until now. Kinshizen-gaku, or “the study of close-to-nature”, systematizes the principles of Kinshizen (Yamawaki, 2004).

The concept of Kinshizen, which originated in Switzerland and Germany, has been applied to river reconstruction, road construction, education, management, and so on. Moreover, in recent years, with the worldwide shortage of resources and reduction in biodiversity, as well as frequent natural disasters, the application of Kinshizen to forestry has been attracting attention.

As stated above, the direction we should take (our vision) is to strike a balance between the environment and wealth. The purpose of Kinshizen forestry is to achieve a sustainable balance between biodiversity, safety, watershed protection, comfort, effective use of solar energy, educational effectiveness, employment promotion, development of forest culture, etc. and forestry management.

By securing sustainability as an investment through increase in asset value that includes soil fertility, forest management that benefits the environment contributes to forestry operation, and healthy forestry operation creates capital for continuous forest management and contributes to the environment. In other words, Kinshizen forestry is a move from “plundering-type forestry”, which “reduces the principal”, to sustainable forestry, which makes it possible to “live off the interest”.

“Sunlight forests” are being proposed as one method of Kinshizen forestry (Okumura, 2011). Sunlight forests are “bright, multi-tiered mixed forests of conifer and broadleaf trees of native species based on natural renewal and selective logging that uses harvesting as a means of proper maintenance”. They involve striking a balance between the securement of functions such as biodiversity, which are of public benefit, and the stabilization of management through high-mix low-volume production and the control of reinvestment costs.

In order to make Kinshizen forestry and “sunlight forest” management a reality, it is indispensable to have experts on the region’s forests and markets who know how to grow which type of tree, when and where to sell the wood for maximum profit, and also whether the need for ecology and disaster prevention can be met. These experts are “foresters”.

Foresters oversee wide-ranging areas from remote mountain forests to suburban forests. They are deeply involved in the supply chain of woody biomass (production, processing, distribution and consumption), as well as in local communities. It can be said that they are essentially “universalists”, rather than specialists.

The idea of wanting human resources who will help us to live through the new age to be “universalists” rather than specialists is based on one of the important principles of Kinshizen-gaku (the study of close-to-nature): “a paradigm shift from parts thinking to system thinking”.

Central European countries such as Switzerland have established forester education systems, and the systematic continuation of sustainable forest management and forestry operation is ensured. Would it not be possible to train this type of human resources in Japan as well? It would be desirable to establish a system whereby human resources could be turned out on an ongoing basis, rather than relying on human resources who happen to be good at their job. This is the research topic of the Kinshizen forestry society.

Kinshizen forestry does not refer to individual techniques or to many techniques collectively; its meaning can be expressed as the creation of a system for people and forests to coexist and thrive together.
 

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