Reforestation following harvesting of conifer plantations in Japan: Current issues from silvicultural and ecological perspectives
AbstractFollowing the Second World War, the number of Cupressaceae plantations in Japan increased, in accordance with government policy for the restoration of timber resources and conservation of soil and water. Currently, these even-aged plantations occupy approximately 44% of the forested area and 24% of the national land area of Japan. Although many of these plantations have become available as timber resources, there are several silviculture-related problems associated with reforestation following clear-cutting of these plantations. The abundant annual precipitation in Japan allows for dominance by competitive vegetation, which makes natural regeneration difficult and increases the cost of silvicultural operations during and after the planting of seedlings. Because the number of seedling producers has decreased, there has been little incentive to keep seedling production techniques up to date. Additionally, damage to planted seedlings by the overabundant sika deer (Cervus nippon) population has increased dramatically in the last dozen years or so. To determine how to overcome these difficulties, various studies are underway in Japan. For example, seedling studies have examined the relationship between seedling size and competitive ability with other species in reforested areas, and have led to the development of lower-cost systems to produce customized Cupressaceae seedlings, as well as measures to minimize transplanting damage to seedlings. Previous studies have shown that no-weeding operations might lower the risk of sika deer browsing seedlings, although this silvicultural countermeasure may potentially reduce seedling growth. Studies have also examined the types of physical protection against sika deer browsing that are most efficient. We must combine these findings into a unified silvicultural system for successful restoration via lower-cost plantations.
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