CSR History Passing on a flourishing natural environment to the future Thirty-five years of regionally grounded tree planting Cultivating real forests based on regional characteristics

Honda has a history of pursuing advanced initiatives based on careful thought about humankind and nature, and the evolution of today's watershed preservation activities from the Community Forest initiatives that spawned them reflects that legacy.

Unlike the uniform approach to greenification that consists of creating a visually attractive lawn and then planting non-native trees, the cultivation of forests contributes to local environmental preservation as well as to the protection of tree species that are being lost along with their distinctive ecosystems.

Protecting the origin of human life

During the 1970s, Honda held a dialog exploring the meaning of truly useful afforestation as part of the process of developing environmental measures at its Sayama Plant in Saitama Prefecture. While that process was ongoing, then-executive vice president Michihiro Nishida discovered and was deeply impressed by a theory of community forests propounded by Akira Miyawaki, then a professor at Yokohama National University. He launched a Community Forest Executive Committee the same year and set in motion initiatives at all the company's worksites.

Miyawaki's community forest concept seeks to restore and maintain the natural world and environment in local areas by cultivating trees suited to the local ecosystem to create a “tutelary” forest. Plants are the only oxygen producers on Earth, and human and animals cannot exist without them. In short, the community forest exists to ensure our own survival.

Honda believes that sharing those community forests with residents of the local community is a mission entrusted to each and every associate.

Area around the front of the Sayama Plant at Saitama Factory when the Community Forest initiatives were launched in 1977; seedlings are being planted in the areas covered by white-looking straw.

The same location photographed in 1987, 10 years after the trees were planted; the seedlings have grown to over 10 meters in height to become a forest.

Blessings from forests

In the distant past, most of Japan was covered with evergreen broadleaf forests that stayed green even during winter. These forests protected people's lives and gave them energy and tranquility. From long experience, our ancestors came to understand the importance of forests and as a result accorded them respect and protection. This was the “tutelary” forest.

Through its Community Forest initiatives, which take the tutelary forest as their model, Honda has worked to create true forests based on an ecological foundation. Evergreen broadleaf forests that stay green even during winter offer a variety of benefits in addition to soothing the human heart by providing blessings that no concrete wall can equal, including by serving as a buffer between manufacturing plants and the surrounding area, preventing disasters, and preserving the environment.

Those benefits include:

  • 1. Protecting ecosystems by fostering plant and animal life
  • 2. Cleaning the air
  • 3. Stabilizing the ground
  • 4. Absorbing noise
  • 5. Blocking wind
  • 6. Blocking fires
  • 7. Absorbing solar heat
  • 8. Serving as a place of refuge in the event of a disaster

Today, even though Japan is one of the world's few heavily forested nations, with about 70% of its land area covered with tree growth, the natural dynamic energy of its forests is not being fully harnessed. When Japanese forests are left uncut, they develop dense growth of thin, weak trees that are unreached by sunlight, preventing the various functions of the forest, including the absorption of CO2, retention of water, strengthening of the ground, and maintenance of diverse ecosystems, from being fully realized.

Now that the Kyoto Protocol, which strives to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases, has refocused attention on the capabilities of forests, efforts to revitalize forests and prevent global warming are thriving.

Tree age and rough CO2 absorption in larch, Japanese cedar, and natural broadleaf forests

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