Women breathing new life into Japanese forestry industry

An increase in women becoming involved in the forestry industry in Japan could be great for investors and the future of the country’s lumber market in general.

According to a recent report by Japan Today, more and more women are working in the industry for a number of reasons, including the opportunity to work outdoors and to have a positive impact on the environment.

Part of the lure for some professional women is the fact that they are able to change public perceptions and help protect the country’s forests. Junko Iizuka spoke to the paper about her experience, stating: “I was attracted to work outdoors [and in an industry] in which I can directly make changes and try new things.” Part of her role now, after several years in the business, is to manage a forestry investment project that spans 30 years and generates the funds to enable the company to continue to grow more trees.

Japan’s Forestry Agency data shows that there has been notable growth in the number of younger women working in the timber and logging industries, with a number of businesses preferring to take on women into public engagement and communication roles. From a forestry investment perspective, the fact that women are becoming interested in the industry is a positive thing as it helps to offset the impact of Japan’s ageing workforce and the lack of manpower available in some regions.

A number of women involved in forestry have launched around 20 ‘forestry girls’ groups around the country, with the intention of engaging the public in the work the industry does and helping people to appreciate the forests around them. This in turn can help to stimulate investment.

Naoko Matsuda, who is involved in the Kyoto branch of the forestry girls explained: “Many people join our activities hoping to get immersed in nature. Thanks to information shared through Facebook and other media, the forestry business has also come to be viewed as something cool.”

The involvement of women and their impact on how forestry businesses operate has helped them to generate income from investment projects such as the one run by Tokyo Chainsaws. The initiative involves investors contributing cash towards the planting of cypress and cedars and the idea is that they remain fully engaged in the forests they are investing in throughout the investment period.

GWD Canada‘s spokesman James Barrett commented that the impact women are having is to be welcomed. “Forestry investment in Japan will benefit from the influx of younger people and particularly younger women into the industry, as the country’s lumber industry would have struggled to survive without greater levels of innovation and public engagement.”

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