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Environmental Preservation with External Partners

Kumon Forest Foundation

The Kumon Group has made donations to various environmental organizations. In 2014 we established the Kumon Forest Foundation and built a system to provide our continuous support to these organizations dedicated to environmental preservation.

At the Kumon Group, we use an extremely large volume of paper for creating worksheets, among other purposes. Therefore, we have declared “not to waste paper resources” to be our chief environmental challenge. Kumon staff members have worked as a team to use environmentally friendly paper and to recycle used paper.

From now on, we will also strive for the reduction of our own environmental burden and, by promoting forest resource preservation with external partners through the Kumon Forest Foundation, we will continue to make contributions to the preservation of the global environment and the realization of a sustainable society.

Support for WWF Japan forest preservation activities

Through the Kumon Forest Foundation, the Kumon Group started to give our support to WWF Japan in 2014. WWF Japan is a member of the WWF Network, which is an organization for global environmental preservation operating in over 100 countries worldwide.

The WWF was established in Switzerland in 1961. Its mission is to protect biodiversity around the globe and to reduce the human burden on nature and wildlife. Forest preservation is one of them.

In addition to fieldwork, such as surveying and protecting rare species and reforestation through tree planting, WWF Japan works toward the goal of sustainable forest preservation by supporting local communities and the responsible purchasing of raw materials in Japan. It also conducts promotional and educational activities through the development of environmental educational programs and the organization of seminars and other events related to the environment.

WWF Japan supports forest preservation activities worldwide through its global network and also works on environmental education. Through education, Kumon also aims to make contributions to local communities and countries around the globe. Therefore, since we understand their activities, we also decided to support WWF Japan.

1. Forest preservation in Indonesia

Fully 75% of the copy paper that we import comes from Indonesia. However, massive deforestation and the expansion of plantations have been promoted in Indonesia, halving the size of rainforests that used to cover whole islands just 30 years ago.

In order to revive forests in poor condition the WWF acts to prevent illegal logging and plants trees. 95 hectares have now been planted (400 trees per hectare = one tree every five meters). There were 2,000 trees planted in 2016 and the total number of trees planted up to the present is 74,000. In order to enrich the area around the national park in Indonesia, which includes a rubber plantation and a forest area inhabited by honey bees, the WWF directed that a total of 10 hectares of land be planted with fruit trees.

In addition, in order to further promote environmental preservation in the entire area, they have provided support for the creation and implementation of a curriculum for three local elementary schools focusing on environmental education. Previously, the WWF have led picture book reading about animals that are at threat of extinction on Sumatra Island and have developed a school curriculum to study about global warming. They are also supporting the greening of school campuses and organic gardening.

In 2016 a resource centers were set up in schools so that parents of students and local residents could deepen their knowledge about the environment. This will help schools spread environmental information to local communities. Moreover, the following website was opened to spread the information about the activities of the three elementary schools to other schools and local governments: http://pustakasumatera.org/

2. Forest preservation in the Russian Far East

Japan imports a large amount of lumber from the Russian Far East. However, in the Russian Far East there are a number of plant and animal species that are under the threat of extinction due to deforestation and to other human-included causes. The diversity of some forests has been severely damaged.

In 2015 the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment carried out the first census of the Siberian tiger in 10 years. The WWF supported and participated in this effort by providing technical and financial assistance. The results showed the number of Siberian tigers had increased to from 523 – 540 as compared to the 428 – 502 of 10 years ago. It also showed that the number of Amur leopards had increased to a maximum of 70 despite the previous belief that a only a maximum of 50 existed.

This was the result of such wildlife protection policies as the banning in 2010 of the cutting down of the pine trees, whose nuts are the main source of food for this herbivorous animal, the increasing of the size of the nature preserve to more than 1.5 million hectares.

The threat facing the tiger, in addition to hunting, is the destruction of forests. Illegal logging and other damaging commercial activities are now occurring in the Russian Far East. The illegal lumber that is taken is used for furniture that is manufactured in other countries. There is a possibly that some of this furniture is eventually sold in Japan.

One way to prevent consumers from buying products made of illegally logged lumber is for consumers to only buy wood products that have the FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) certification seal attached. FSC® certification is given to wood products that are from forests where preservation is focused on, that are to the benefit of local communities and that are produced in an economically sustainable manner.

It is very important for consumers to select and purchase wood products that are produced in a sustainable manner and are FSC® certified.

Participation in Reforestation Activities through Present Trees

In order to reduce paper usage the Kumon Institute of Education has instituted such policies as having Instructors submit reports via computer rather than paper and order materials and items via computer. We have created a system where Instructors earn Green Points in this way. The Green Points that are earned can be donated to the NPO Environmental Relations for “Present Trees” that are used for reforestation.

In fiscal year 2016 contributions were made to reforestation activities in Hirono Town in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Hirono Town suffered tsunami damage after the large earthquake in 2011. For a period of time it was also designated as an emergency preparatory evacuation area. The creation and reinforcement of green belts to aid in disaster prevention and to help revive the area has been progressing. As one part of that effort the planting of broadleaf tree seedlings native to Fukushima Prefecture was implemented.

In fiscal year 2017 we plan on making a contribution to reforestation activities in the Naruko Hot Spring area of Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture.

The Kumon Institute of Education together with Instructors of the 16,600 Centers in Japan are working to reduce paper usage through the Green Point system. We will continue to participate in forest preservation through the Present Tree program.

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