Stories of Solving Social Issues: The Woodlands of Hitachi High-Tech Science
Our planet is home to many organisms, but due to the effects of climate change and the deterioration of the natural environment, this biodiversity is being lost day-by-day. Over the past 50 years, the world's biodiversity has decreased by 68% (Source: "Living Planet Report 2020"). To help solve the issues with biodiversity, the Hitachi High-Tech Group launched the "Biodiversity Project" in 2015 at the Woodlands of Hitachi High-Tech Science on the grounds of Hitachi High-Tech Science's Fuji Oyama Works (Oyama, Shizuoka Prefecture). The project aims to restore the original ecosystem of the approx. 44,000 square meters of Woodlands and Grasslands that surround the R&D facility over a 50-year period. In December 2020, it received the highest rank of AAA from the JHEP certification program* for evaluating biodiversity.
*JHEP Certification Program
A system for evaluating and ranking businesses by comparing biodiversity before and after a project, and awards certifications accordingly. It is the only certification system in Japan that clearly states when companies are yielding no net loss or providing a net gain to the quantity and quality of nature.
"Since we started to work on improving the woodlands, large animals such as deer and wild boar have started to return. The acorns we planted have started to grow up into saplings. Until I joined the Biodiversity Project I didn't really pay any attention to the state of the woodlands, but since taking part I've learned to appreciate the richness of nature and its ecosystems. Walking through the forest while taking a break from work always cheers me up."
Shuya Tashiro, General Manager at Oyama, who is participating in the Biodiversity Project at the Hitachi High-Tech Science Fuji Oyama Works, speaks about the Woodlands with a smile on his face.
Fuji Oyama Works is one of Hitachi High-Tech's research and development centers. It works on the development and manufacture of analysis and measurement equipment, and is surrounded by wide-open nature with spectacular views of Mount Fuji.
When you step into the Woodlands of Hitachi High-Tech Science that envelop the facility, you'll first notice the soft leaf mulch underfoot. If you listen carefully, among the rays of sunlight sparkling through the trees you'll hear the songs of Japanese tits and Japanese pygmy woodpeckers.
Why restore the ecosystem?
In 2015, the Hitachi High-Tech Group launched the Biodiversity Project in the Woodlands of Hitachi High-Tech Science, with the aim of ensuring a future where both people and nature can prosper. Over a period of approximately 50 years, the nearly 44,000 square meters of Woodlands and Grasslands surrounding the R&D facility will be restored to their original state and revived as a traditional type of managed Woodlands that was once a key part of people's lives, called satoyama.
The environment, which is the basis of all life, is created by maintaining a healthy and diverse range of living organisms. So to protect this biodiversity is to protect the life on this planet and the foundation that supports it.
The Hitachi High-Tech Group is working on three major activities:
Reverting the existing artificial Woodlands to natural broadleaf woodland
Felling the artificial coniferous Woodlands made up of cedar and cypress trees, and planting saplings of species which originally used to exist on the land, such as sawtooth oaks and konara oaks, in order to turn the area into broadleaf woodland. The saplings were raised from acorns collected from around the facility. Increasing the amount of broadleaf trees creates a Woodlands with more light, allowing other plantlife to grow and attracting more insects and birds.
Restoring the pampas grassland
Digging up existing pampas grass plants located around the facility, dividing them up and then transplanting them into some of the regular grassy areas. This will transform the artificial trimmed lawns planted around the facility into traditional Grasslands containing local plants such as pampas grass.
Remove invasive plants
Regularly removing invasive plants that have a serious negative impact on native natural environments and wildlife.
The future Woodlands of 2065, created by Hitachi High-Tech
"By 2065, the kids of today will have become adults, and even the tiny saplings will have grown up. It'd be great if we could leave behind a diverse ecosystem for the future." (Tashiro)
It has been six years since the Hitachi High-Tech Group began its activities in 2015. As the Woodlands gradually shifts from an artificial Woodlands made up of cedar and cypress trees to a broadleaf Woodlands primarily populated with sawtooth oaks and konara oaks, other saplings of varying heights such as Japanese maples, Japanese beautyberrys and kousa dogwoods are also being planted.
Along with the planting of pampas grass and the removal of invasive plants, these activities for the conservation and recovery of ecosystems have been steadily achieving results.
These efforts began to bear fruit, and in December 2020 were awarded the highest rank of AAA from JHEP, Japan's only third-party certification system that quantifies and assesses biodiversity conservation initiatives.
Contributing to environmental education and generating innovation
The Biodiversity Project is also promoting activities throughout the Hitachi High-Tech Group, not just Hitachi High-Tech Science. Since 2018, 152 employee volunteers have taken part, along with their families and local residents.
These efforts not only contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, but also connect and motivate employees across the group. The rich revived natural environment is expected to improve creativity, leading to more innovative ideas, and contributing to wider society by bringing advanced scientific and technological products to the market.
It is also being used as a place for local schools to learn about the environment. The Hitachi High-Tech Science Fuji Oyama Works, is actively inviting children from neighboring preschools onto the premises, providing them with opportunities to get closer to the abundant nature.
It also works with the "Dr. Furusato Kintaro" project, which allows elementary and junior high school students in Oyama to learn about and take pride in their city. In 2018, we held a tree-planting festival with nearby elementary and junior high school students.
Kazunari Sugawara of the Hitachi High-Tech Environmental Management Dept. spoke of his hopes for the project, saying "We want to continue to preserve this vast Woodlands surrounding our facilities looking forward to 2065 and restore it to its native ecosystem, working toward a future where the rich natural beauty of forest creatures such as Japanese squirrels, pygmy woodpeckers and Neptis sappho butterflies can exist in harmony with employees and local residents.
At the Hitachi High-Tech Group, we are working on global biodiversity conservation activities with "a future where people and nature can thrive together" as a common concept. Through processes using our strengths of observation, measurement, analysis and evaluation, we will be working with employees and local residents at all of our locations, including the Woodlands of Hitachi High-Tech Science, in order to promote initiatives to create a positive image of the future.