TOKYO, July 3, 2014 - Rakuten, Inc. today announced that it would begin Rakuten’s Forest, an initiative designed to restore Japan’s ancient forests and preserve ordinary ecosystems through ongoing forest improvements, starting immediately.
As part of the Rakuten Group’s CSR activities, Rakuten’s Forest was launched. Initiatives will begin with forest improvement efforts in the six prefectures of Tohoku, home of the golden eagle, an endangered species. In cooperation with local governments and landowners, Rakuten’s Forest will support forest improvement efforts centered mainly on thinning, while also raising awareness on forest issues. More specifically, part of the proceeds made from cardboard sold to Rakuten Ichiba merchants, along with funds raised among Rakuten Ichiba users, will be devoted to covering the costs of forest improvements. In addition, Rakuten will also be making donations to fund the activity costs. Furthermore, Rakuten’s company envelopes will be made from wood from the thinning activities, and we will also be raising awareness for Rakuten’s Forest on the printed materials used in the Rakuten Group’s various services. Initiatives will first be launched in the six prefectures of Tohoku, with the aim being to expand the scope of activities to perform forest improvements all over Japan in the future.
In light of the fact that the golden eagle,* on which the “Clutch” mascot of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles is modelled, has been designated as an endangered species, Rakuten began the Project to Protect Clutch’s Golden Eagle Buddies in 2012. The project conducts awareness-raising activities regarding the conservation status of golden eagles and forest conservation. A survey was carried out to determine the habitats of golden eagles prior to the start of this project and it was found that the decline in the number of golden eagles has been exacerbated by the presence of large amounts of dense forest area. Such forest areas allow for little penetration by sunlight, making it difficult for golden eagles to hunt for their prey from the skies. During Japan’s rapid economic growth period large-scale forest development was instituted, on top of which appropriate thinning was not carried out, which resulted in such large amounts of overgrown forest area. The Rakuten’s Forest initiative promotes concrete forest improvement efforts in order to preserve environments and ecosystems that are inhabitable by golden eagles, which represent the top of the food chain in forests.
The forest thinning activities in the six prefectures in Tohoku will be instituted over three years, spanning one or more hectares per prefecture per year, using methods that are suited to the local regions. The forests will be restored to their ideal conditions by means of phased thinning in coniferous forests, and through thinning and weeding in broad-leafed forests. Moreover, for the activities carried out in Yamagata Prefecture, fixed-point vegetation surveys, surveys on the appearance of small animals, and surveys on the behavior of golden eagles will be carried out and reports on these initiatives will be provided via a dedicated webpage. These activities will be carried out with the cooperation of Yamagata University, which has a long track record in research on golden eagle conservation and forest improvement.
As part of its environmentally-conscious initiatives, Rakuten has been promoting renewable energies through Rakuten Energy. In addition to promoting the use of solar panels among Rakuten members, it has also proposed an initiative that seeks to cut costs by curbing electricity at peak hours to travel inns, hotels, and other facilities that collaborate with Rakuten, while steadily promoting initiatives to reduce the environmental impact. Similarly, Rakuten’s Forest will also raise awareness on reforestation through the various services within the Rakuten Group.
* [Birds] Aquila chrysaetos japonica, 31 species, Endangered species IB (EN) in the Fourth Red List (2012) by the Ministry of the Environment