This study clarifies the development process of Mokuiku, a comprehensive forest environmental education project in Hokkaido, and the efforts of the project leaders, called Mokuiku Masters. Mokuiku is defined as an approach that encourages “all people to come in contact with wood, to learn from wood, and live with wood.” To realize this broadly defined Mokuiku concept, the project focused on developing Mokuiku Masters capable of coordinating and promoting networks of specialists in various forest education fields. Most of the Mokuiku Masters used networks to conduct educational activities, and their network relationships were divided into two types. Type １ Masters used the network to coordinate various instructors to construct educational activities. Type ２ Masters took part in Type １ educational activities by utilizing their expertise. By strategically developing coordinated personnel and network formation, Mokuiku Masters were able actively to develop network-based voluntary activities.
Although “forest volunteering” once attracted government attention in supporting forest management, it now faces the problem of recent declines in the number of “forest volunteer” groups while activities reportedly diversified. We focused on activities, organizations, participants, and networks, and first compared concepts of “forest volunteering” domestically and in other countries by a literature survey; and, second, elucidated diversification and its actual component factors in the Tokyo Metropolis by interviews and participant observations, and then considered the current interpretation.
The literature survey showed that the characteristics of “forest volunteering” in Japan were as follows: it focused on practical activities in forests; its basic units of activities were groups; and citizens participated voluntarily. Our field research showed that current “forest volunteering” (1) involved direct or indirect forest activities such as public awareness activity and environmental education, (2) was carried out by diverse types of groups such as civic groups, NPOs, and foundations, (3) comprised participants such as citizens, students, and corporations, and (4) was connected through networks. Owing to diversification of activities, organizations, participants, and networks, it is difficult to grasp the current situation of “forest volunteering” using the previous interpretation of practical activities based on civic groups.
This research aimed to determine what information is possessed and needed by, and to clarify asymmetry in transaction information among, economic agents constituting domestically harvested sawtimber distribution. The research site was the Nishikawa forestry area in the Kanto region and included key economic agents. Results were as follows: (1) Forest owners and loggers have a deep understanding of suitable stumpage area for harvest and of quality control for sawtimber, whereas knowledge of harvesting and transfer process controls for sawtimber by loggers is insufficient in regard to the needs of sawmills and pre-cut timber mills. This knowledge gap prevents the sustainable production of wood products with domestically harvested sawtimber by sawmills and pre-cut timber mills. (2) While sales of wood products by pre-cut timber mills are growing, the sawmills do not purchase sawtimber directly from forest owners and loggers. One reason for not trading sawtimber directly is resistance to direct price negotiations between forest owners/loggers and sawmills. In traditional sawtimber distribution, sawtimber auction organizations have built trust based on information aggregation and long-term business relationships. The problem of information asymmetry may be resolved by adding the role of coordinator of sawtimber suppliers and vendors to the current functions of auction organizations.