May 27, 2015
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Launches Global Rakuten’s Forest Reforestation Initiative in Brazil

- Helping to alleviate drought in Sao Paulo State and regenerate the Atlantic Forest*1 -

Tokyo, May 27, 2015 – Rakuten, Inc. today announced that it will launch the second phase of the “Global Rakuten’s Forest*2” reforestation project in Brazil on May 30.

The globalization of the Rakuten Group’s operations is accelerating, with business expansion in Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. As part of the groundwork for the global expansion of its CSR activities, Rakuten has conducted a study to identify the most relevant issues for each of the countries and regions it has a presence in, within the boundaries of its five overarching CSR initiatives*3. The study highlighted that the areas of the world Rakuten is active in are in need of the kind of reforestation initiatives that have been carried out in Japan as part of the company’s “Environmental Considerations” initiatives.

Rakuten has decided to implement the second stage of its Global Rakuten’s Forest program in Brazil, where it operates an e-commerce business, due to the increasingly severe drought conditions in the state of Sao Paulo. The initiative will regenerate forests through planting in areas of deforestation caused by logging with the aim of optimizing the flow of rainfall into waterways. It is hoped that this will help to alleviate long-term drought issues by restoring the function of forestry as a watershed*4

Under the Global Rakuten’s Forest initiative in Brazil, Rakuten has decided to plant 25,000 trees by 2017 in the Atlantic Forest, in the north of Sao Paulo State, where deforestation has been particularly severe. Planting is due to begin in September this year.

The Atlantic Forest is a biological treasure trove, home to some 20,000 globally rare species. However, the area of remaining forest habitat has shrunk to less than 10% of its original size. Moreover, in addition to six species of Brazilian birds at risk of extinction, over 20 vertebrates are also endangered. From the perspective of ecosystem preservation, this has been labeled the most endangered forestry hotspot (Source: Conservation International survey). This information was also instrumental in the selection of the Atlantic Forest for the program.

On May 30, a tree planting ceremony to which a number of government representatives have been invited to mark the launch of Global Rakuten’s Forest will be held. A beach volleyball event will also be held in Villa Lobos Park, Sao Paulo City, a popular amenity for the locals, to raise awareness of reforestation as a way to alleviate drought. Beach volleyball is a highly popular spectator sport in Brazil. The event will see the “Brazil” team, led by Nalbert Bitencourt*5, a former Brazilian national volleyball player who was inducted into the International Volleyball Hall of Fame in 2014, facing the “Japan” team, led by Koichi Nishimura, a beach volleyball player currently in Japan's national team, and former volleyball Japan national team player.

*1. The forest belt along Brazil’s Atlantic seaboard. It extends as far inland as eastern Paraguay and Misiones State in northern Argentina, and includes coastal Uruguay. It represents a unique ecosystem, due to its isolation from South America’s major tropical rainforests.
*2. An initiative to restore the original functions of forests and conserve ecosystems through careful forest improvement. In Japan, large-scale forest development was carried out during a period of rapid economic growth, but as those forests were not subsequently sufficiently thinned, many of them have become overly dense, and forest thinning and undergrowth clearing is now required to revitalize the forest ecosystems. The initiative is presently being rolled out in 15 prefectures around Japan, and is scheduled to eventually include projects in all 47 prefectures. The initiative was launched in April 2015 in Indonesia, where the destruction of forests is an increasingly serious issue.
*3. 1. Sports and cultural advancement; 2. Education for future generations; 3. Community growth; 4. Environmental considerations; and 5. Disaster recovery and humanitarian efforts.
*4. Forest soils hold rainfall, releasing it into waterways in a more even fashion. Not only does this reduce flooding, this stabilization of river flows also results in cleaner water quality because of the filtering of rainwater through forest soils. (Source: Forestry Agency)
*5. A former Brazilian men’s volleyball national representative. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Nalbert played the role of wing spiker and competed in three Olympic Games. His entry to the Volleyball Hall of Fame is a result of his superb record, including winning gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics. 

Overview of Global Rakuten’s Forest in Brazil

Launch date: May 30, 2015 (planting to begin progressively from September)
Period: 2015 - 2017
Details: To plant 25,000 trees over three years on the tributaries of the Tiete River, in the district of Mendonca, Sao Paulo State with the purpose of alleviating the drought in Sao Paulo State and helping to regenerate the Atlantic Forest.
Project funding: To be provided by Rakuten, with future fundraising from merchants on the Rakuten.com.br (https://www.rakuten.com.br/) online shopping mall in Brazil as well as customers to be considered

Overview of tree planting ceremony to mark launch of Global Rakuten’s Forest

Date: May 30, 2015 From 9:30
Venue: Villa Lobos Park, Sao Paulo City, Brazil
Participants: Brazilian government officials, members of the general public and Rakuten Group staff in charge of Rakuten.com.br
Details: Tree planting ceremony to mark launch of Global Rakuten’s Forest

Overview of Global Rakuten’s Forest beach volleyball event

Date: May 30, 2015 (after the completion of the planting ceremony) 
Venue: Villa Lobos Park, Sao Paulo City, Brazil
Participants: Rakuten Group staff in charge of Rakuten.com.br and members of the general public
Details: A game of beach volleyball, “Brazil vs Japan”, with Global Rakuten’s Forest introduced through PA announcements and panels, raising awareness of the importance of reforestation. Other activities included opportunities for spectators to play volleyball with the athletes.

*Please note that the information contained in press releases is current as of the date of release.

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