MM Metal Recycling BV is working to increase its own energy production. As a result, the roofs of the office and the factory has been fully covered in solar panels, and the roofs of the recently built expansion will follow soon, ensuring considerable progress in generating green energy. MM Metal Recycling BV is currently getting this project on track in collaboration with their partners.
Owning and managing forestland
We currently own some 14,000 hectares of forestland in Japan, mainly in Hokkaido. This makes us one of the country’s largest owners of forestland. We originally began acquiring forests for the purpose of supplying wooden supports for our mines and coal mining activities. However, as we no longer operate domestic mines or engage in coal mining, our forests now fulfil different roles and are subject to different expectations.
We currently manage forests for the purpose of harnessing ecosystem services such as the production of lumber as a renewable resource, the provision of public recreational spaces, prevention of global warming through CO2 fixation, and conservation of biodiversity.
We divide the managed forests into four categories with specific functions and management methods:
- water and ecosystem conservation
- health and cultural usage
- selective natural forest cutting
- timber resource recycling
On October 1, 2012, we obtained Sustainable Green Ecosystem Council (SGEC) certification at Hayakita Forest, Hokkaido, in recognition of sustainable forest management initiatives. Under new SGEC standards, we have obtained forest certification for a total of nine forests in Hokkaido on September 1, 2015, including Hayakita Forest.
Forest layout is based on zoning between naturally regenerated forest, used as a water and ecosystem conservation zone, and afforestation areas grown from manually planted seedlings, used as recycled resources for efficient lumber production.
Contributing to a recycling-oriented society
We produce some 10,000 m³ of timber - an outstanding sustainable resource - every year, mainly in timber resource recycling zones and selective natural forest cutting zones, and supply this to society as raw material for a variety of uses, from building materials to biomass fuel.
We maintain and regenerate forest resources, based on a cycle of felling, planting, and growing trees, ensuring a sustainable, stable supply of lumber from coniferous trees such as the cedar and the Japanese larch.
In selected natural cutting zones, we keep forests vital and sound by promoting thinning, selective lumbering, and appropriate natural regeneration. In this way, we aim to achieve a sustainable supply of timber from broadleaf trees. Managing natural forests, which have a wider variety of tree species than artificial forests, requires specific knowledge and skills. We strive to improve these through initiatives such as inviting a Swiss forester with a wealth of natural forest management knowledge.
Many of Japan’s natural forests were replaced with artificial forests in the post-war period. Therefore, depletion of forest resources has been a chronic problem. We are attempting to convert parts of artificial forests into natural ones to restore broadleaf tree resources.
Use of timber from company-owned forests for furniture in the new Head Office building and Sapporo Office
In 2019 we introduced tables and other furniture made of timber produced in our company-owned forests to the new Head Office and Sapporo Office, where the forest management division is located.
We also hold tree planting and growing festivals and other environmental events in our forests to teach people about the value and fun that forests provide, including their biodiversity. Through our activities, we proactively reach out to local residents. In addition, we worked on the recovery of a forest owned by Mori Town, Hokkaido, which was damaged by the typhoon in 2016. Christmas trees from our company-owned forests were sent to nurseries in Atsuma Town, which were affected by the 2018 Hokkaido Eastern Iburi earthquake. Our initiatives actively contribute to local communities and we are increasing our efforts to make Mitsubishi Materials’ forests into valuable features of their local areas.
Contributing to the local community
We contribute to local communities through appropriate forest management, improving the quality of ecosystem services. This includes watershed protection, soil loss prevention, and recreation. Company-owned ‘environmental forests’ on the outskirts of urban areas are partially open to local people.
We opened up part of Teine Forest, in the Teine area of Sapporo, for purposes such as nature walks and camping. We also provide access for nature activities organized by a local NPO, skiing practice for elementary school children, and research by universities and other institutions. In addition, we are proactive in activities such as thinning trees to add light to the interior of our forests, removing dangerous trees, and creating and maintaining paths.
Contributing to a decarbonized society
A key forest ecosystem service is CO2 fixation. As one of Japan’s largest forestland owners, we dedicate ourselves to promoting forest maintenance and do our best to enhance the CO2 fixation capabilities of the trees in our forests. This is estimated* to be 51,000 tons per year (equivalent to the annual amount of CO2 emitted by approximately 26,000 people).
The ability to fix CO2 peaks during when trees are young or middle-aged, after this their fixation capabilities decline. That is why we make every effort to regenerate our forests to maintain CO2 fixation capabilities over the long term.
We also strive to fix CO2 in forests by promoting the use of timber from forest thinning. In addition, we have made it our primary objective to produce high-quality, large-diameter timber to be used over long time frames, as building materials or for furniture for instance.
* Method of calculation
Growth (m3) x material volume weight (t/m3) x carbon conversion efficiency x tree/trunk ratio x CO2 molecular weight / carbon molecular weight
Our company-owned forests are a vital habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. We take the utmost care to ensure our activities, including timber production, do not have a detrimental impact on living organisms. We prohibit clearcutting forest ridge and riverside areas that acts as migration pathways. We also refrain from clearcutting large areas of land in artificial forests, where we proactively produce timber, as this may reduce biodiversity. Instead, we clearcut small, dispersed areas.
In addition, we are planning not to clearcut artificial forests that are difficult to manage efficiently. We aim to nurture these forests into natural forests with richer biodiversity. We are also introducing trial forest maintenance methods in selected areas, aimed at conserving biodiversity.
We record wildlife sightings and have positioned a large number of wildlife survey sites in our forests, where we regularly inspect the animals and plants and confirm positive or negative impacts of our forest maintenance. We carry out monitoring surveys before and after felling, to confirm wildlife has not been affected. If rare species are found in an area during a monitoring survey before felling, we change the time or method, or consider postponement of planned maintenance, to avoid affecting those species.
Rare species that have been confirmed to be living in the area (most endangered species included on red lists published by the Ministry of the Environment and Hokkaido Government) are included in our own red list of rare species living in Mitsubishi Materials company-owned forests. We issue warnings to all involved parties with access to the relevant forests to conserve biodiversity, for example by holding regular training sessions.