● Hello Woods, home to diverse wildlife
Hello Woods, located within the Twin Ring Motegi speedway complex in Motegi, Haga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture, opened in 2000 to help foster closer connections between people, nature, and mobility. We have made various efforts to restore this expansive, 460-hectare plot of satoyama ecosystem (see below) after decades of neglect. The site now has various facilities for teaching children about nature in a fun-oriented, outdoor setting.
At Hello Woods, we have worked for more than 10 years to restore the satoyama ecosystem, such as by carrying out systematic thinning, bush cutting, tree planting, and redevelopment of fallow fields. Motegi is originally an area rich in species diversity, as it possesses the unique weather characteristics of both southern and northern Japan. Capitalizing on these characteristics, Hello Woods has been participating in Monitoring Sites 1000*, a project run by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment since 2008, by carrying out fixed-point observations of the ecosystem. In this way, the Hello Woods initiative is restoring this rich ecosystem and even helping to establish new biological communities.
We are using the satoyama development and ecosystem conservation know-how we gain through this initiative to inform initiatives in other regions and strengthen ties with local communities.
* Since fiscal 2009, Hello Woods has been a participant in Monitoring Sites 1000, a national ecosystem-monitoring project launched by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. As a fixed observation point for six of the nine survey categories (flora, birds, medium and large mammals, frogs, butterflies, and fireflies) Hello Woods submits survey reports for the community of Motegimachi in Haga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture.
The Satomaru, a wood hauler currently under development to reduce work in the restoration of satoyama
Thinning, while necessary to maintain satoyama, is being abandoned because of the difficult labor involved, such as cutting trees on steep slopes and transporting cut wood off-site.
Today, satoyama are deteriorating throughout Japan. Forestry work such as periodic thinning is necessary to maintain satoyama, but carrying felled trees and branches to the foot of the mountain is hard work. Forestry work is often abandoned because of a lack of profitability.
In response, Honda is developing the Satomaru, a wood hauler that uses the intelligence technology of Honda Robotics to automatically navigate through the mountains, in order to reduce the burden of maintenance work and assist in satoyama restoration.