Causes and consequences of reduced human intervention in formerly managed forests in Japan and other countries

In Sustainability Science
Volume (Issue): 15
Peer-reviewed Article

In Japan, abandonment of forest management and underuse of forest resources are substantial challenges to environmental protection and sustainable wood production, while in many other countries, leaving a forest untouched may be perceived as positive for conserving the forest. This study thus analyses the scientifc knowledge landscape on the causes and consequences of reduced human intervention in formerly managed forests and compares diferences between Japan and other countries. Advanced search rules in the bibliographic databases returned 188 publications [35 for Japan and 153 for other countries] related to reduced human intervention in formerly managed forests. Reduced human intervention in formerly managed forests occurred in developed countries in the mid-twentieth century because of socio-economic changes and was primarily directed by small-scale private landowners, causing structural homogenisation, stand ageing, and canopy closure, often followed by the consequences of decreasing biodiversity and ecosystem services in Japan and other countries. In Japan, heavy dependency on wood imports at the expense of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the impending need for harvesting abundant mature forests due to the unbalanced tree age distribution possibly enhanced the recognition and urgency of underuse as a threat to biodiversity and wood security, while in other countries, multiple management objectives of diverse landowners probably dispersed the recognition of underuse. Although less recognised in other countries, the absence of forest management can pose a risk to biodiversity and ecosystem services. Hence, reactivating forest management in underused private forests can be a cost-efective precautionary approach against possible damage from underuse-induced ecosystem disservices. Policy implications for sustainable forest management in underused private forests are discussed from a perspective beyond conventional private ownership.

Author:
Akiko
Oono
Chiho
Kamiyama
Date:
Topic: