School desks and chairs which are made of wood(Kochi Prefecture)
  • Satoyama
  • Forest
  • Water resources
  • New initlatives(non-PES)

Top page > Forest > Forest environment tax in Kochi Prefecture

  • Forest environment tax
in Kochi Prefecture
  • Forest environment tax
in Tochigi Prefecture
  • Forest environment tax
in Kanagawa Prefecture

Forest Environment Tax in Kochi Prefecture

•Year started: 2003
•Actor: Kochi Prefecture


With 84 percent of the land area covered with forests, Kochi Prefecture has the largest forest coverage in Japan (Forest Resources Study 2007). Planted forests comprise 66 percent of the forest area, giving Kochi the second largest coverage of planted forests in terms of ratio to total forest area. In the mountains of Kochi Prefecture, many forests were cleared against the backdrop of increased timber demand after World War II, after which forests were uniformly planted under large-scale national afforestation projects. However, with village populations aging and younger generations leaving the villages accompanied by declining wood prices, forest owners lost their incentive for timber production activities, therefore abandoning their forests which have remained unmanaged. Planted forests, in which trees have been planted close together, do not allow enough sunlight to come through, thus preventing underbrush to grow. Consequently, depleted water source recharge functions, soil runoff, and adverse impacts on river and ocean ecosystems have become serious issues for the living environment.


The blessings of a forest are enjoyed not only by its owners but also by entire societies. However, of the many values of the forest that are widely appreciated, it is the economic value of wood production that directly motivates forest owners to manage them. Therefore, with deteriorating earnings, forests have been left inadequately managed. Given these circumstances, in 2003, Kochi Prefecture became the first local government in Japan to introduce a "forest environment tax" aimed at protecting forests with the support of all citizens so that the diverse functions of the forest can be passed on to coming generations.

Structure of fund operations

Kochi Prefecture's Forest Environment Tax collects 500 yen per capita annually, additionally to the prefectural inhabitant tax, therefore equalizing burden widely among individuals and corporate entities.

The tax revenue is reserved in the Forest Environment Conservation Fund to be used for participatory forest conservation activities (soft programs) as well as for urgent and functionally important forest improvement operations (hard programs) following discussions in a third-party organization. During 2003 – 2009, 9,101 hectares of forest in the headwaters above dams were improved and citizen-led forest improvement activities, including "Kochi no Yama no Hi" (Mountain Day in Kochi), were granted funding. The increased number of forest volunteer groups is another achievement of implementing the tax.

Payments for ecosystem services

Because the forests covered by the program turned out to be limited to a small area, the second implementation period beginning in 2008 includes young planted forests (total area of 25,000 hectares in five years) for the purpose of securing CO2 carbon sinks. Furthermore, in response to voices from urban residents that they could not really see what their taxes were being used for, the prefecture supports participatory activities aimed at fostering better understanding of forests, including forest environment education in elementary and middle schools that are linked with direct forest improvement activities and support for forest conservation volunteer activities.

Major achievements of Forest Environment Tax in Kochi Prefecture (fiscal 2008)
Improved forest (Kochi Prefecture)

Photo: Improved forest ©Kochi Prefecture

Questionnaires for Citizens

During the first implementation period (2003-2007), Kochi Prefecture asked its citizens to complete questionnaires every two years for use in reviewing the tax program. In the questionnaire conducted just before the beginning of the second implementation period, 45.2 percent of the citizens "strongly supported" the continuation of the forest environment tax and 38.3 percent "supported" it, largely exceeding those "opposed" (2.4 percent) or "strongly opposed" (38.3 percent) and proving that the tax program had gained a certain level of recognition from the citizens of Kochi.

Programs for enhanced public understanding
for forests and related activities (Kouchi Prefecture)

Photo Programs for enhanced public understanding
for forests and related activities ©Kouchi Prefecture

· Committee for the Promotion of Forest-making in Kochi (2002) Kenzen na Kochi no mori zukuri ni mukete (Towards fostering healthy forests in Kochi)

· Kochi Prefecture Introduction to the Forest Environment Tax

•Special thanks to
Kochi Prefecture (Department of Forestry and the Environment)

Back to page top