2020 Volume 66 Issue 1 Pages 51-60
This paper discusses the current state of and future trends in the forest administration of municipalities in Japan. We conducted a nationwide postal questionnaire survey with municipalities in fiscal year 2018. The survey results, based on responses from 615 municipalities, showed that many of the municipalities’forest divisions were small in terms of the number of staff and that many of the staff did not specialize in forest administration. Indeed, many were in charge of other businesses as well as the forest division. Most municipalities responded negatively to the recent decentralization of forest policy, considering that it imposed additional burdens on them. About half of the municipalities considered strengthening the capacity of their forest division in response to the decentralization. Municipalities were divided in their opinions on the forthcoming Forest Environmental Tax, subsequently introduced in 2019, with some responses positive and others negative. Despite some of the shortcomings in forest administration mentioned above, the survey also found that increasing numbers of municipalities had developed their own municipal forest plans and established forest boards, and were starting to adopt positive attitudes to developing their own policies and systems. However, for the time being, as forest administration remains in a vulnerable state, the government should reconsider undertaking further decentralization of forest policy and instead implement further measures to strengthen the capacity of municipal forest administration.