A quarter-century has passed since Honda launched the Community Forest initiatives, which strive to cultivate true forests in the vicinity of worksites throughout Japan. Honda has pursued a series of tree-planting activities that it terms watershed preservation in order to conserve forests that confer the blessings of water on the communities in which those worksites are located. This program goes beyond mere tree planting.
Volunteers including current and retired Honda associates and their family members contribute to watershed preservation activities in accordance with Honda's belief that actual experience based on voluntary participation deepens people's understanding of environmental preservation. Family participation also helps ensure that awareness of the need to protect the environment is passed on to the next generation.
Honda's tree-planting activities began with a program launched by the Saitama Factory in the town of Minakami in Gunma Prefecture and then spread throughout Japan. This watershed preservation program, which embodies the philosophy of Honda's Community Forest initiatives, is helping to protect local forests and pass them on to future generations.
“I imagined that we were going to end up working in a highly dangerous area on steeper slopes, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be,” said Kobayashi with a smile. “They chose the site carefully, so I was able to do my work with peace of mind.”
Looking serious, he continued, “When I set foot on the site where we were planting the trees, I saw that the trail winding up and down the mountain was well worn, and I realized how hard the staff have worked. I felt that there was a need to take measures to keep the deer away so they don't eat the seedlings.”
When he heard that the process of restoring the mountain at Ashio is only about half complete, Kobayashi expressed a renewed understanding of the need for “broader, sustained activities” along with his hope that additional activities would be pursued, saying, “I hope that more Honda associates will participate in this activity.”