Forestry and Economic Development on the Oki Islands, Japan, PRP 196

Date

2018

Authors

Eaton, David J.

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Publisher

LBJ School of Public Affairs

Abstract

The Oki Islands are composed of four inhabited islands (Dogo, Nishinoshima, Nakanoshima, and Chiburijima) and 38 uninhabited islands located 40 kilometers (24 miles) north of Japan’s Honshu Coast. In recent years, the islands have experienced a decrease in the population and changes in tourist preferences that have affected local business. In 2014, the town decided to reduce its reliance on imported diesel fuel for energy production and explore green energy options for meeting local demand. To respond to the changing economy of the islands, the local Oki Islands government, along with the Shimane Prefecture and federal governments, have formulated the Green Complex (GC) project (also known as Midori no Kombinat). This plan’s objective is to create a network of small- to medium-sized businesses on the island that will utilize the islands’ local biomass resources to develop the economy, create jobs, and reduce the island’s reliance on imported fossil fuels.

This report analyzes the availability of biomasses resources and how those resources can be utilized to enhance the quality of life on the islands. The research demonstrates that the GC project can generate employment on the islands and increase levels of economic activity. The study concludes that there is enough wood biomass to support green industries on the island; approximately 87 percent of Dogo Island is covered in forests which can support significant new industries using wood biomass as an input. The use of biomass on the island is more efficient than exporting the wood chips due to the cost of marine transport. Using the biomass for a large-scale power plant is economically feasible. Regarding pellet stoves, the study concluded that financial subsidies are necessary as a prerequisite to a viable industry, because pellet stoves are costlier for citizens than alternate stoves or maintaining existing equipment. Other opportunities exist for economic revitalization beyond the biomass industries, particularly in ecotourism. Complex and opaque ownership of land impedes the use of this resource. The final chapter reports recommendations regarding forest and ecotourism entrepreneurship.

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