Friday, April 8, 2016

The Soil for Mantle Vegetation: Yokohama Green Up Plan

The Citizen Forests Family lives in a village of city planning in Yokohama. The city’s policy started from 1973 Urban Space Conservation (National) Act 都市緑地法 and the City Ordinance for Creating and Nurturing Green Environment 緑の環境をつくり育てる条例. A year before, in 1972, the Family started with 4 members, Iijima 飯島, Kamigoh 上郷, Shimonagaya 下永谷, and Miho 三保. So, Yokohama Citizen Forest was more or less born with the trend of national development policy. Then, around the turn of the century when the issues of sustainable development started to take the center stage for municipal policy with the Master Plan 横浜市都市計画マスタープラン, the Citizen Forests Family was allowed to have a distinctive place in the town. First in 2005 the Family was given a room in the Basic Plan for Water and Greenery 横浜市水と緑の基本計画. Then with the introduction of Green Tax in 2009, the Forests are allocated a large room within the Yokohama Green Up Plan みどりアップ計画. Now the policy village Green Up Plan lives has newly moved geeks such as Future City Initiative 環境未来都市構想 for alternative energy generation and fuel cell vehicles, funded by the Cabinet Office of Japan, 3R! Plan ヨコハマ3R夢!プラン for aggressive waste recycling, and Yokohama b Plan 生物多様性横浜行動計画 for biodiversity promotion in line with UNCBD. Among fashionable, cosmopolitan, and state-of-the-art neighbors, our Forests remain determinedly local. J

The planned site for the new city office in Minato-mirai Area.
There will be a skyscraper in 2020.
A fuel cell station near Zoorasia

In the town of the 21st century city planning, the forests stay very close to us from the beginning. In addition to the landlords, it seems to me some Forest Volunteers are veteran of more than 20 years of experience in Niiharu. (Niiharu Citizen Forest has entered its 16th year in March 2016.) As a municipal policy formation, Yokohama Green Up Plan and Green Tax scheme include a strong component of citizenry. Green Up Plan has a policy formulation / monitoring / evaluation body, called Citizen Council for Promotion of Greenery 市民推進会議 whose members are dignitaries from the leaders of Lovers of Forest Volunteers, academia, the Chamber of Commerce, and JA, in addition to the career officials from the city. They have been engaging in the Green Up Plan well before 2009. Although they are not “elected” officials, they represent the voices of their constituencies, and annually turn over the post according to the business of their home organization. Moreover, they do not act like the 19th century gas-business people in Manchester: their voice for the management of Green Tax revenue has a strong support among Yokohama locals. In the surveydone by the city in 2013, 93% of residents and 91.3% of corporations agree with the goings of the Yokohama Green Up Plan. Even about green tax burden, 74.4% of individual taxpayers and 66.7% of corporate tax bearers support the arrangement. At least till 2018, the Green Up Plan has a solid ground. The policy received a prize from Parks and Open Space Association of Japan in October last year.

Greenery in town

The Green Up Plan has 3 Outcomes as a policy. The first one is to protect the forests in the city to be loved by the citizens. The second Outcome is to make the business of agriculture thrived and loved in the city that will protect the agricultural greenery against the march of urban development. Bounty Community Plan with Associations for Bounty Community is a project for Outcome 2. The third Outcome is to make the greenspace familiar among city dwellers through creating gardens in the downtown area. In the budget allocation for the first Plan, the second and the third Outcomes received 9% each of the money. The lion’s share of the gold went to the forests. The money Green Up Plan can use comes from Green Tax, general fund of the city, grants from the national government, and the municipal bond. Among those sources, Green Tax is strictly earmarked for the projects exclusively listed in the Green Up Plan, and managed in the special fund for Green Up Plan 緑の保全及び創造に資する事業の充実を図るための基金. Green Up “Special” lists the projects for securing forests and agricultural land, for quality improvement of the greenery, and for supporting citizen participation in greenery management, i.e. volunteering and educational events.  Observing the activities in Niiharu Forest, I think forests receive lots of pecuniary help from the Plan for sure.

Jike’s Visitor’s Center which was spruced up
during the first Green Up Plan.
Increasing allotment area is one of the outputs
the projects in Outcome 2 aiming for.
Though, the attainment of the target was 78%
in the first Plan which was lower than
any other projects for Outcome 1.

The first Green Up Plan was for FY 2009-2013. In June 2014, the Citizen Council for Promotion of Greenery published their evaluation about the First Plan. According to the Evaluation Report, the first Plan managed to secure 527.2 ha of greenery, which was 47% of the Outcome 1 target. As an absolute acreage it may not much, but it slowed the speed of deforestation in the city from 47 ha per year during 2004-2008 to 14 ha in 2009-2013. Out of 527 ha, 125 ha was bought by the city responding to the call for help from the landlords facing inheritance tax issues. This 125 ha is now permanently protected forest… Japan is really an aging society … During the first 5 years, total of 324 volunteers received forestry training, which exceeded the target number of 300, and 24,000 people participated in the seminars and fun events of environmental education organized by colleges and libraries with the fund from the Green Tax. Money. Yeah, the total expenditure used for the 5 years of the first Green Up Plan was about 50 billion yen. (Wow!) Out of the pot, more than 40 billion yen was spent for securing the forests within the city. For Outcome 1, about 6.3 billion yen was used for supporting volunteer activity in the forests, and 53 million yen was for educational activities. From the revenue of Green Tax, the Outcome 1 of 2009-2013 received more than 24.5 billion yen, and Outcome 2 and 3 got about 2 billion. Still, the Special Fund kept some change, and the projected total budget was not used up. The ratio of budget implementation ended with 85%, and the average achievement of each target within the first Plan was slightly less than 100%. It says something about the difficulty to get things done with land and environment …

A day in a corner of the city …

The second Green Up Plan of 2014-2018 is an continuation from the First with smaller budget of 48 billion yen where Green Tax revenue covers 13 billion. This time Outcome 2 emphasizes more on reducing food mileage among urbanites (i.e. promoting local ag-business), and Outcome 3 encourages downtown folks to join gardening activities in the city center. Having said that, 76% of 48 billion is allocated to Outcome 1, whereas Outcome 2 receives 8% and Outcome 3 will have 16%. 67% of the second Green Up Plan budget is distributed to secure the land (purchase, tax treatment, etc). In practical term, the environment policy is about “terroir,” yeah. At the moment, Yokohama Green Tax is a temporary arrangement till 2018. So, we’ll see how the things will turn out within a year or so.

Terroir … Oui, even in a same cherry tree,
one branch with more sunshine flowers first …
But why the top of the tree with more sunshine
does not open till the end?

The prize the Green Up Plan received last year is originated from 6.3 billion yen for supporting volunteer activities. The training sessions for urbanites to be knowledgeable in forestry are one of those sponsorships the Plan provides. Another assistance of the Green Up Plan arranges a practical guideline for non-professionals to manage the forests in Yokohama. For the purpose, the Plan emphasized the importance of formulating a detailed Conservation and Management Plan (; let’s call it CMP). Yes, that wonky gardening tome used in Niiharu. During the first Plan period, 62 million yen was used to create CMP, customized for 13 Citizen Forests each. As of the end of 2013, the forests in Yokohama with a CMP are Oiwake 追分, Yasashi 矢指, Niiharu 新治, Miho 三保, Wuethrich ウィトリッヒ, Minami-Honjuku 南本宿, Segami 瀬上, Shimonagaya 下永谷, Nakata-Miyanodai 中田宮ノ台, Fukaya 深谷, Araizawa 荒井沢, Nature Sanctuary 横浜自然観察, and Shinbashi 新橋. Their experience for creating a tailored management guide was summarized in a manual called 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. It is a detailed how-to guide when somebody wants to create an individualized CMP for a forest. In the second Green Up Plan, the making of Conservation and Management Plan is continuing in the other forests, and the first 13 forests are engaging in M&E activity based on the CMP. In the next post, I’ll report you what the Guideline says.

Actually, flowers for aucuba japonica
are chic, and cute.

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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