We took a tour with Terauchi san and Jinma san from the Ministry of the Environment, who introduced us to their restoration efforts in the Kushiro Wetland National Park.
First, they explained the problem of the invasive species of water caltrop in Kushiro River, which is mainly due to an excess of nutriments because of sediment overflow from the higher parts of the river. As a response, they organise annual meetings to remove the caltrops by hand with volunteers – seemingly tilting at windmills. Later, they showed us their tree farm, where they tediously grow ash trees to replant them instead of the invasive larch trees that constitute the biggest part of the forest. The are a problem because they cannot hold water as good as ash trees, therefore encouraging sediment flow. However, they are more interesting for economic reasons, and are therefore spreading rapidly in the forest. At the end of our tour, we did a field study on the different bugs in the forest, and learnt about their reflection of the wood’s ecological health.
The Ministry of the Environment’s efforts to restore the forest and the river are remarkable, and even though it seems like the difference they make might not be the most substantial, it seems to be most important to take small steps in order to raise awareness for the ecological issues in the Wetlands, by organising meetings such as the one for water caltrop removing.