Starting in FY2017, ITOCHU Corporation has been supporting the new concept of "Field Museum," an ecosystem conservation program in the tropical forests of the Amazon, and the construction of the Field Station, a research facility, which are promoted by the Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University with the National Institute of Amazonian Research for the purpose of conserving the environment and biodiversity. These projects constitute a part of the SATREPS project, on which the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) work jointly. In SATREPS, researchers from Japan and developing countries jointly conduct research on resolving global issues and the future of research outcomes by society.
The Amazon rainforest accounts for over half of all the rainforest acreage that remains on earth. It is called a treasure-trove of ecosystem. However, the valuable ecosystem is being lost in recent years due in part to the rapid economic development and deforestation attributed to the lack of environmental education for local residents. Jointly with the National Institute of Amazonian Research, the Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University conducts research and dissemination activities for maintaining the valuable ecosystem of the Amazon. The Japanese and Brazilian institutes conduct joint conservation research and facilities development by using the advanced technologies that Japan excels at, which is expected to dramatically advance conservation research on various organisms and ecosystems, including research on water-dwelling animals (river dolphins, manatees) of the Amazon and the upper canopies of the rainforest, which have been challenging to study until now. These activities also include efforts to protect the Amazonian manatee, a vulnerable species, and ITOCHU Corporation supports a program for reintroducing the manatees to the wild. This has made it imperative to establish a project for reintroducing Amazonian manatees into the wild. The program aims to have at least nine manatees return to the wild and at least 20 manatees return to semi-captive environment in three years, with support from ITOCHU Corporation.
Concerning the support for the construction of the Field Station, a research facility, ITOCHU donated funds for the construction and development of a facility (visitor center), including a cafeteria and an exhibition hall where visitors can gather. The Field Station was completed in March 2018 as the projects hub for observing nature and conducting research, and an opening ceremony was held at the site on May 8. Through this facility, ITOCHU will provide opportunities to experience a wide variety of plants and animals in the rich natural environment of the Amazon rainforests, contributing to the environmental education of both local residents and tourists. This is JICA's first industry-government-academia collaboration for conserving the Amazon's ecosystem.
See Support of Amazon Ecosystem Conservation Program for details. We also introduce this support with video (4'20).
In April 2012, ITOCHU Corporation opened Eco Shop, an environmental pavilion giving children hands-on experience with eco activities, in KidZania Tokyo, a facility devoted to vocational experience for children. In FY2018, this pavilion was renovated under the theme of "Amazon Ecosystem Conservation" as a promotional measure for the Amazonian manatee reintroduction project (Manatee Homecoming Project). For each child visiting, the pavilion donates 10 yen as financial support for purchasing milk for Amazon manatees. Based on the number of children who visited this pavilion in FY2018, ITOCHU donated an amount equivalent to the amount needed to feed one manatee for 968 days.
For the purpose of conserving biodiversity, ITOCHU Corporation support activities for protecting green turtles, designated as an endangered species in the Red Data Book from the Ministry of the Environment of Japan. The support is provided via Everlasting Nature (ELNA), a certified NPO. ELNA was established in 1999 for the purpose of conserving marine lives in Asia and the marine environment surrounding them. It was certified as an NPO by Kanagawa Prefectural Government.
Green turtles lay their eggs in Japan on the sandy beaches of Ogasawara Islands. People's lives are deeply connected to the natural environment surrounding green turtles. For instance, coastal development has reduced the availability of sandy beaches used as spawning grounds, the green turtles are caught as bycatch and eat refuse on the coast, mistaking it for food. The probability that a green turtle will reach maturity over a period of around 40 years is between 0.2% and 0.3% (the survival rate of young naturally hatched turtles).
As a part of its activities for protecting green turtles, ITOCHU held a summer school program on the environment in July 2016. The event was designed for children from neighboring elementary schools in Aoyama area in Minato ward and employees’ families, who learned the importance of living creatures and the environment through a look at green turtles.
Additionally, to cultivate an awareness of the environment on the part of employees, from Saturday, August 25 to Thursday, August 30, 2018, ITOCHU conducted a Green Turtle Protection Tour on Chichijima in the Ogasawara archipelago, the largest green turtle breeding ground in Japan. Ten ITOCHU employees and family members took part in the tour. After extensively interacting with the green turtles through feeding and shell polishing, the group participated in conservation activities including the transplanting of eggs and release of hatchlings.
Thanks to 24-hour conservation activities carried out by ELNA, the number of green turtle nests on Chichijima has gradually increased. Through ongoing support of activities to protect green turtles in the future, ITOCHU will contribute to the protection of marine and coastal ecosystems and halting of biodiversity loss, which make up part of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations.
- Details of the support being provided by ITOCHU Corporation are also introduced on the ELNA website (Japanese Only) .
In 2008 ITOCHU Corporation celebrated the 150th anniversary of the company's foundation. To commemorate the anniversary, the Company decided to implement a social contribution program. A questionnaire conducted to determine what type of program to conduct found forest conservation to be the theme employees desired most strongly. Starting in FY2010, under this program, ITOCHU engaged in activities to restore the tropical rainforests and conserve the ecosystem in Borneo by collaborating with World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature Japan. Saplings of tree species which are native to the island of Borneo were planted at regular intervals and on-site maintenance work, including weeding around each sapling, was continued after the planting, aiming to restore the forests. These tasks were performed by following methods that were agreed by the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD) and WWF Malaysia. The tasks were performed meticulously. For example, as many as around 60 species of trees, including Dipterocarpaceae species that are native to the area, were planted in conformity to the environment. Creative measures were devised to restore forests more effectively and improve the environment as a habitat of Bornean Orangutans. They include the planting of tree species which grow quickly (pioneer species), those which grow slowly (Dipterocarpaceae plant are the majority), and those that bear fruit as food for Bornean Orangutans, in accordance with the condition of each area.
With regard to the planting of trees and their maintenance, which were undertaken for a period of seven years, WWF and SFD conducted on-site checks of each task to ensure that it was being performed in accordance with the standard, and corrective tasks were conducted where the standards were not followed. Planting and on-site maintenance work of all 967 hectares, where ITOCHU supported forest restoration, were completed on January 14, 2016. This is the largest area of responsibility for the restoration project undertaken by any private company.
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Supporting Climate System Research at the Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo
The Division of Climate System Research, Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, the University of Tokyo advances research into climate systems through numerical models and the analysis of observational data, and engages in enthusiastic research with the goal of giving back to society through those findings. ITOCHU Corporation has sponsored this mission since the founding of the University of Tokyo’s former Climate System Research Center in 1991, and has continued to support its research.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of our Manila branch in 1912, in June 2012 we signed a project agreement with the Fiber Industry Development Authority of the Department of Agriculture and the St. Ann's Family Service Cooperative, a local agricultural cooperative. Based on the agreement, ITOCHU donated ¥2 million, the amount needed to plant and grow 90 hectares of Manila hemp (about 144,000 plants), and planting had been completed by June 2016. In addition, the project is expected to absorb approximately 18 tons of CO2 a year.