Growing Forests around the Globe for the Sustainable Future of Our Planet

Marubeni has acquired the rights to use the vast grassland of the Negros Occidental in Philippines and has been planting trees there for their new business—generating carbon credits through reforestation since September 2023.

“Our goal is to open the way to a sustainable future through the power of people and forests,” says Seiichiro Takayanagi, a member of Marubeni’s Forest Products Division. He adds, “We are committed to mitigating environmental degradation and restoring biodiversity through reforestation while generating economic value through carbon credits.” In this project, the native species of Philippine trees are being planted; no fast-growing exotic trees are being used. The idea is to bring back the true forest—what a forest in the Philippines should look like. Marubeni designed this method based on the knowledge and insights they have gained through reviving forests in Indonesia.

The First Industry-Academia-Government Collaboration in the Philippines to Create Enhanced Value through Reforestation

For the reforestation project in the Philippines, Marubeni is working together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), University of the Philippines Los Baños College of Forestry and Natural Resources, and DMCI, the company’s local partner. This is the first collaborative effort in the Philippines to jointly develop a carbon credit program among a private sector company, university, and government agency.

“With private-sector participation like this, we see a brighter future, bringing back the once lush greenery of the Philippines,” says Marlo Mendoza, dean of University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Deforestation is a very serious problem for the Philippines. The country’s forest cover, which once stood at about 70 percent, has dwindled to about 20 percent. “The main driver was irresponsible logging by many private companies.” Professor Mendoza says. He adds that the situation was aggravated by poverty; people started encroaching upon the forest, cutting the trees, and converting it to agricultural lands. “By working closely together with Marubeni, we will improve people’s quality of life, bringing more employment opportunities,” he says.

Making the Most out of Japan’s Forest Resources

Also, in Japan, Marubeni is propelling new projects. The country boasts a lot of artificially planted cedar and cypress forests, many of which are left unmaintained. Marubeni’s carbon-offsetting projects using the “J-Credit Scheme,” a government-led initiative, are aimed at unearthing “sleeping forests” and utilizing them for the conservation of ecosystems and the development of local communities. The profit gained through trading carbon credits will be given back to the forest owners.

Marubeni is working on these projects hand-in-hand with municipalities and owners of public forests, as well as forestry associations. Municipalities and forestry associations are responsible for the creation and implementation of a forest-management plan. They are also tasked with monitoring of registered forests. Marubeni’s responsibilities meanwhile include applying for registration of forests, providing technology-based assistance in monitoring registered forests, and cultivating buyers of carbon credits.

There are a couple of problems that are common among the communities dealing with many forests. The most significant of these is a lack of interest in forestry among forest owners. “Many owners feel that their personal mountains are unwanted assets. We somehow need to change their mindsets,” says Masaki Kato of Shirakami Forestry Association (Noshiro City, Akita). To help promote application for J-Credit registrations, he says the association continues to talk to the forest owners to explain that they can make profits just by giving proper maintenance to their forests.

Noshiro City is also in the process of applying for J-Credit registrations using 200 hectares of the city’s forestland. “Once we have carbon credits issued and show that they can sell well, forest owners’ perception will change,” says Yoshihito Ishii of the Forestry and Timber Promotion Division, which is part of the city’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department. “We would like Marubeni to keep bringing our city fresh ideas, which will become new solutions to our local problems.”

The very existence of the forest itself is valuable. Acknowledging this simple fact may seem like a very small step, but it will help maximize the value of forest resources, generating a new stream of income for the forest owners and their local communities. Obayashi, a member of Marubeni’s Forest Products Division, strongly believes that this virtuous cycle will be beneficial: “I am envisioning a future where we can continue to make progress, taking one small step at a time.”