Kyoto Model Forest spans the entire Prefecture of Kyoto and is unique in its governance structure. Encompassing some 13,000 private forest owners and 26 local governments, it is essentially a collection of small detached forests, each with its own management approach, united under the Model Forest banner– a sort of “network of networks.”
In addition, Kyoto Model Forest stakeholders have realized substantial mobilization of the private sector through their distinctive approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Today, 41 private companies and more than 70 local organizations voluntarily participate in Kyoto Model Forest activities.
Companies across the prefecture typically enter 5 year agreements with the Model Forest, requiring them to conduct forest conservation activities such as thinning, weeding, bamboo management, trail construction and environmental education. In return, they are able to do business in the prefecture and enjoy free use of the land, often to offer health incentives to their employees in the form of recreational opportunities organized within the Model Forest.
Contracting companies include a wide range of well-known global corporations, such as Coca–Cola West, as well as small-sized local industries. Since 2007 Coca–Cola West has donated funds to assist with the maintenance of 106 hectares of land, promoted the conservation of watershed forests and facilitated volunteer opportunities for their employees within the Model Forest.
Another notable contribution comes from the beverage company Suntory. Since 2005, Suntory has been providing both funding and volunteers to maintain 8000 hectares of forests around 18 water sanctuaries across Japan, including in Kyoto. They are also members of the Nishiyama Council for the Promotion of Forest Protection, a working group within the Kyoto Model Forest which engages local people, governments and conservation groups to discuss sustainable forest management.
It makes sense for these large beverage companies to ensure the sustainability of their water supplies.
Beyond beverage companies, voluntary participation of the private sector is a characteristic feature of Kyoto Model Forest which also partners with automotive dealers, the transportation industry, private- sector unions, electricity providers, and others. In the end, companies can promote their CSR activities through environmental reports on their websites and also through public campaigns by the Kyoto Model Forest, helping to build consumer confidence and a stronger brand.
Kyoto Model Forest will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2016 and is seeking to enhance its CSR initiative and broaden the active participation of various sectors.