Support of Amazon Ecosystem Conservation Program
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. The activities also include one for protecting the Amazon manatee, an endangered species, and ITOCHU Corporation supports a program for reintroducing the manatees to the wild. While an increasing number of manatees are taken into protective custody after being injured by poachers, it is difficult for the animals to return to the wild on their own. 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. Through these initiatives, 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.
Activities to Restore the Tropical Rainforests and Conserve Borneo's Ecosystem
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.
Click here for details.
Support for Activities for Protecting Green Turtles, an Endangered Species
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. Humans have a great impact on the natural world and human life has significant implications for green turtles. For example, coastal development has reduced the availability of sandy beaches and green turtles eat refuse on the coast, mistaking it for food. As part of its activities for protecting green turtles, ITOCHU held the summer school program on the environment in July 2016. The event was designed for children from neighboring elementary schools in Aoyama and employees' families, who learned the importance of living creatures and the environment through a look at green turtles. To build a more sustainable society, it is important that each one of us should try to make our lives more eco-friendly. For this purpose, every summer since 1992, ITOCHU Corporation has been holding summer school program on the environment for local children as a means of raising their awareness of environmental issues. To date, a cumulative total of more than 1,200 elementary school children, representing future generations, were provided with opportunities to learn about environmental and biodiversity conservation.
Support for Manila Hemp Plantation Rehabilitation Project
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.
Support for tree-planting activities in Kenya through exhibition at the KidZania Tokyo Eco Shop
Since April 2012, ITOCHU Corporation has operated Eco Shop, an environmental pavilion giving children actual experience of eco activities, in KidZania Tokyo, a facility devoted to vocational experience for children. For each child visiting, the pavilion donates an amount equivalent to the cost of one seedling to the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting program in Kenya. By the end of March 2016, about 150,000 children had visited to participate in the activities at the pavilion, and the pavilion had therefore donated an amount sufficient for purchase of about 150,000 seedlings to Kenya. Besides tree planting, the funds are used in Kenya for various other purposes, including facilities for storage of rainwater to permit the continuation of forest revival and the holding of workshops for local residents to educate them about ecological approaches to sound utilization of forest resources. In FY2018, ITOCHU will renew this pavilion under the theme of "Amazon Ecosystem Conservation" as an initiative for promoting the Project to Support Returning Amazonian Manatees to the Wild (Manatee Homecoming Project). The amount obtained by multiplying the number of child visitors to the pavilion by ten yen will be sent to Brazil as the cost of milk for Amazonian manatees.