Friday, April 15, 2016

In search for lost butterflies: Yokohama Citizen Forestry Guideline and Conservation / Management Plan 横浜市森づくりガイドラインと保全管理計画

The creation of the Niiharu Conservation and Management Plan 新治保全管理計画 was, it seems to me, a kind of a pilot project in Yokohama Green Up Plan. In Yokohama Citizen ForestryGuideline and Conservation / Management Plan 横浜市森づくりガイドラインと保全管理計画, they discuss the experience when Niiharu was creating the Conservation and Mangement Plan. Oiwake and Yasashi Citizen Forests are also the topic in the Guideline so that these north forests in Yokohama are the pioneers of forest management with strong volunteer participation in Yokohama. Measuring the success in terms of biodiversity, the pilot forests are very successful and no wonder the replication continues now with the other forests in Yokohama.

Could you figure out a female pheasant in the middle?
It’s a wild bird I found the other day
in a farm land in Niiharu.

The Guideline consists of 3 parts. First they introduce us the overall feature of greenery in Yokohama and the necessity of a tailor-made Conservation and Management Plan (CMP). Then, the Guideline explains the method to create a CMP, really in step-by-step. The third part is a very practical and comprehensive guide for actual forestry works based on ecology for each of the environments the forests in Yokohama contain, including the area immediately next to the housing development. The third section of the Guideline was the most popular among the budding forest volunteers who attended the introductory forestry course last fall. It leaded to excited discussions about obtaining the license for chainsaws. Anyway, before unleashing our inner desire to wield a chainsaw, we need CMP. “Don’t cut trees randomly!” Yeah.

The trees are coppiced in Maruyama of Niiharu
last February … though they are still too tall.

The Guideline tells us as of 2012, only 29.8% (12,972ha) of Yokohama is covered by green where 58% of it are forests. The 2000 research done by the Ministry of the Environment found only 0.2% of Yokohama’s greenery is the original biota of the area, i.e. 99.8% of 12,972ha is Satoyama with very long-term human interventions. For Yokohama, Satoyama provides more biodiversity so that the key to achieve rich environment in the city is slow and controlled human intervention. In the 21st century urban life, people do not have immediate incentive to recreate traditional Satoyama life. In order to attain environmentally friendly Yokohama, it is necessary for the urbanites to have a CMP with a clearly defined image for the future of a forest in 20 years ahead. The future vision is the first thing CMP shall have. For Niiharu’s case, it is the Niiharu Charter. Second, when we visualize scenery of Forest A in 2035 Yokohama, it will have a community of living creatures that is for a target vegetation in the CMP. To make the goal realistic, we have to think the current condition of the forest with respect to its geology, biology, and relationship with the urban human life. Inevitably we cannot ignore the history between the place and the humans in addition to the natural biota of the area. Adding possible resources the management can mobilize now, the objective becomes very specific for a small zone within Forest A. As one forest can have numerous zones, it will also have a variety of target vegetation. Finally, in order to achieve a target by the volunteers who are basically city dwellers without previous experience in forestry, people do need step-by-step instructions for the job in terms of timing, the method of intervention, resource allocation, and monitoring and evaluation. Moreover, if a forest has many zones with different targets, the work required for each aim will differ. It is the reason why we have a bulky volume for Niiharu Conservation and Management Plan with detailed work plans for dissected zones with specific target vegetation each.

Within a forest, Niiharu hides many large cherry trees.
People were picnicking under the flowering trees.

I guess it is probably something of “lessons learned” after rampant deforestation and impoverished urban environment in the decades of almost unchecked housing development … The Guideline emphasizes the importance of continuous monitoring and evaluation by the citizen forestry. All the tailored CMPs shall have indicator fauna and/or flora for target vegetation each that tell(s) volunteers our work has achieved an original objective, and we will maintain the environment as such in perpetuity. Here fauna includes urbanites who visit the forest for weekend relaxation. The forest volunteers are expected to watch continuously and carefully the soil, the winds, the sunshine, the composition of plant / animal community, and the usage by visitors in the forest. The information from monitoring will be evaluated among all the concerned parties promptly to be utilized for a timely modification in coordinated activities. I realized why the lecturers in the Introductory for Forest Volunteers in Yokohama emphasized the forte of volunteers … as detailed and continuous eyes of the protectors of forest. When we consider the glacial pace of eternally understaffed bureaucracy, and the vegetation could be in threat of bulldozers any time, it would be effective to station willing people who care continuous human cohabitation with the terroir. Otherwise … I am shocked to know beautiful sasakia charonda that was so familiar when I was in kindergarten is now near extinct in my home city. The caterpillars eat leaves of celtis sinensis and the adults drink sap from quercus acutissima and quercus serrata. All the trees are of Satoyama, and they were destroyed massively for houses and condos … The absolutely practical Guideline recommends not to make sasakia charonda as an indicator for volunteer activities, but choose hestina persimilis japonica instead. Sad. Very sad.

Table manner of a bird of prey

After listing the necessary contents in a CMP, the Guideline talks how to make a CMP. Though the process explained is in detail, the summary is simple: coordination. In order for a CMP to be useful for a forest, everybody who engages in conservation and management understands and consents with the contents. The Guideline says a CMP must be an agreement from the beginning among the people who care the forest. So, during the course of drafting a CMP, people must decide who does what, and an institutionalized way to harmonize the activities after the CMP becomes operational. It is a kind of natural for a council to be born. At the beginning the parties who have a stake for the forest meet regularly to draft the CMP. During the discussion the division of labor gets clearer. People could imagine possible contingencies in a practical sense, and arrange the way how to deal with probable “matters.” What if when the Lovers of the Forest realizes that a work is more dangerous than it is expected in the CMP? Let’s make such incidents to be in the possible agenda for the council meeting. Bounty Community Association may spot strangers who could be thieves for the area. Well, we establish lines of communication for the issue to be informed swiftly among the council members and the police. How about a new task that is not in the CMP but realized as necessary later? We predetermine how to deal with such cases before the CMP becomes operational. Hey, who’s gonna coordinate all of these? The Guideline recommends to choosing somebody who has a good communication skill with broader basic knowledge for the forest, rather than a geeky expert. (Wooo …) The Guideline shows us an interesting experience with the Niiharu’s CMP. I’ll tell you in my next post how my senior volunteers did it.

Niiharu Elementary and Umeda River in early spring.
It’s a territory of the Lovers of Waterside of
Ipponbashi Bridge Medaka Plaza.

Oh, by the way, as of April 3, there remain only 3 logs of 20m long Japanese cypress and chamaecyparis pisifera in the Mukebara of the Niiharu Citizen Forest. We are still working as a human crane. My BMI is improving. Yayyyyyyy!

Remaining 3

The City Office who’s in charge of execution of Green-up Plan is

Yokohama Municipal Government Creative Environment Policy Bureau 横浜市環境創造局
Phone: 045-671-2891
FAX: 045-641-3490

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