In November 2023 Hikari Miso Co., Ltd. signed a forest-creation agreement with the C. W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust, which has been working for some years to revive the rural Satoyama landscape in Kurohime, Nagano Prefecture. Under the agreement, approximately 1.7 hectares in the southern part of the Afan Woodland have been given the name “Afan Heulwen Woodland by Hikari Miso.” This is the first corporate partnership for the Afan forest creation project and will involve collaborating on the revival of the forest ecosystem, to restore biodiversity.
The name given to the block of forest is intended to signify “Afan, a forest of sunshine – a Hikari Miso co-creation.” Adding the Welsh word heulwen, meaning sunshine or light, also the origin of the Hikari Miso name, to afan, also Welsh, meaning a place where the wind blows through, demonstrates our commitment to the reforesting to which Welshman C.W. Nicol dedicated his life, and the trust that is carrying on his work. It also expresses the resolute commitment of everyone at Hikari Miso to co-creation, in this case by engaging in Satoyama revival projects alongside the trust and local community.
■ Serving as an official Afan Woodland partner
The Afan Woodland is an area of forest in Shinano-machi, Nagano first purchased in a degraded condition by author and environmentalist C. W. Nicol, whose ultimate aim was to restore the original beauty of Japan’s natural environment. Restoration of the forest began in 1986. When Nicol first visited over 60 years ago, Japan still had much of its stunning natural heritage, and many people going about their lives in harmony with it. Grateful for the natural bounties of fields and mountains, they made wise use of fuel and food, pursuing a way of life that also enhanced the biodiversity of Satoyama areas. However as the Japanese economy gained strength, this wonderful natural environment began to be lost. Now, thanks to the efforts of the C. W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust, the Afan Woodland is regaining its biodiversity, with a wide variety of fauna and flora returning to the forest.
Hikari Miso’s brand concept is “Nature’s Best, from Our Family to Yours,” . The idea of existing symbiotically with nature, and gaining sustenance from its blessings, is in keeping with that of the Satoyama as a sustainable culture in Japanese tradition. As a maker of miso crafted from ingredients found in nature, and a business also located in Nagano, Hikari Miso is keen to serve as an official partner of the C. W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust and support its Satoyama revival efforts.
■ First corporate Afan forest-creation tie-up
At the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) held in December last year, delegates adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) of biodiversity goals for 2020 onward. A major objective was the “30 by 30” target of preserving 30 percent or more of the earth’s land and ocean by 2030, in the interests of biodiversity. The GBF specified the need for urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity, turn that loss around, and put biodiversity on the road to recovery.
To accelerate its efforts to restore diversity in the southern part of the Afan Woodland, an area the C. W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust, which has spent the past 37 years restoring biodiversity, owns but has not yet managed to turn its attention to, the trust called for corporate partners to assist in forest creation. The “Afan Heulwen Woodland by Hikari Miso” is the first of these partnerships. Hikari Miso employees will now work with the trust onsite to help restore biodiversity in this piece of forest.
About the “Afan Heulwen Woodland by Hikari Miso”
Yellow block/North area：The north area consists of a block of despoiled and abandoned forest purchased by the C. W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust in 1986. Considerable progress has since been made in restoring biodiversity here, with the presence of over 65 types of endangered plants and animals confirmed to date.
Red block/South area：The south area, a piece of forest requiring input to improve its diversity, was purchased by the C. W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust in 2009. Some work has been carried out here, but more is needed to restore biodiversity.
The area colored white is now earmarked for joint forest creation as the “Afan Heulwen Woodland by Hikari Miso.”
Name: “Afan Heulwen Woodland by Hikari Miso (Afan, forest of sunshine – a Hikari Miso co-creation)”
Vegetation: Deciduous broadleaf forest, stands of konara (Quercus serrata) and mizunara (Quercus crispula) oak, some karamatsu (Larix kaempferi ) plantation
Status: Purchased by the C. W. Nicol Afan Woodland Trust in 2009. Had been used for charcoal production, but likely abandoned when no longer of value for this. It should be possible to chop out the now-dominant sasa bamboo grass and scrub and thin the trees to allow light to reach the forest floor, encouraging the regeneration of rare plants, for example from buried seeds. Careful monitoring by the biological survey will be carried out to restore the area’s original biodiversity and preserve the natural blessings of Satoyama forest. Hikari Miso staff will take part in ongoing monitoring and maintenance work in the Woodland.
HIKARI MISO Co., Ltd. Public Relations