To ensure the sustainable utilization of living resources, the Asahi Kasei Group gives due consideration to reducing the impact of our business activities on biodiversity, and we have established guidelines for the preservation of biodiversity. Based on these guidelines, we have been working to understand the relationship between our business activities and biodiversity since 2010. In order to promote business activity mindful of biodiversity, we are working to raise awareness among personnel by various means including our Responsible Care (RC) education program.
Investigation of impact on biodiversity by procurement
Regarding the impact of our business activities on biodiversity when there is a newly used raw material or a change in use of raw materials, we use a survey sheet on the relationship between business operations and biodiversity to examine the country of origin of raw materials, processers and manufacturers, and primary vendors (trading companies, etc.), in order to confirm the absence of any problem.
Group-wide activities for biodiversity
What is the "Town Woods" Program?
We aim to increase value from the perspective of biodiversity while enhancing green spaces at Asahi Kasei Group operating sites in Japan. We will use Town Woods Pots as a tool to heighten understanding and awareness of the value of biodiversity among personnel.
What are Town Woods Pots?
This new way of landscaping by Asahi Kasei Homes combines four layers of vegetation of varying heights: Tall, medium, short, and groundcover. While compact enough to integrate with urban residential areas, they increase the space for other plants and wildlife in artificial environments that otherwise have little greenery. Our Town Woods Program uses the phytosociological method to classify green spaces at operating sites throughout Japan, selecting the most suitable regional vegetation when creating the Town Woods plantings.
Town Woods Project: (FY2019–2021) Phase 1 Targets and FY2020 Results
|First Phase Targets (FY2019–2021)||FY2020 Results|
|Target I||Install Town Woods Pots at all 41 Asahi Kasei Group operating sites in Japan||Achieved goal of installing "Town Woods" pots at all 41 sites in Japan by FY2020|
|Target II||Accumulate a total of 2,600 "Town Woods Points" during the period.||Achieved goal with cumulative MMP total of 1,934 points by FY2020|
- *Town Woods Points (Machi-Mori Point: MMP) Initiatives at Asahi Kasei Group sites are divided into four stages. Each initiative earns Town Woods Points and the points are aggregated across the group.
|Stage 1: Installation||
|Stage 2: Observation||
|Stage 3: Dissemination||
|Stage 4: Development
Initiatives in other locations
FY2020 Project: "Town Woods" Red Dragonfly Watching
In fiscal 2020, due to the increase in remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to "Town Woods" pot viewings, we expanded the number of viewing locations, such as parks and home surroundings, and held a limited-time project based on a specific theme.
Since dragonflies have been the most frequently observed creatures in submissions up until now, and because it was autumn, we chose red dragonflies as the theme and provided information about how to identify them.
During the two-month period from September 15 to November 16, we received a total of 96 submissions from 11 offices and confirmed 22 types of dragonflies. About 70% of the submissions were of red dragonflies, and the specimen that was most commonly submitted was the Sympetrum frequens red dragonfly. Experts said that we observed 11 species, more than half of the 21 species of red dragonflies in Japan, and that these dragonfly records, particularly those of Sympetrum kunckeli, Sympetrum pedemontanum elatum, and Sympetrum darwinianum, which have been said to be declining rapidly in recent years, are very valuable as local biological information.
Publishing News on the Town Woods Program
In fiscal 2020, in conjunction with the Town Woods Red Dragonfly Watching project, we published information prior to the project explaining its purpose, how to identify red dragonflies, an explanation of results and comments from experts after the event, a column on dragonflies, and offices' initiatives.
Notable activities in fiscal 2020
Actions in the Moriyama Area
Ex-situ conservation of smallhead stickleback, an endangered freshwater fish, and joint effort among companies and communities for dragonfly conservation
In Moriyama, we draw groundwater for industrial use in cooling equipment. Its quality is strictly monitored, and it is discharged to nearby rivers after use. A portion of the discharged water from our Moriyama Works is also used for agriculture, which has become vital for local farmers as well as wildlife inhabiting the waterfront areas.
Against this backdrop, and since water is intrinsically related to our business operations, in fiscal 2010 we started initiatives to protect biodiversity with a focus on water resources.
In fiscal 2015, we began ex-situ conservation of smallhead stickleback, an endangered freshwater fish, and in fiscal 2016, we began dragonfly conservation activities in cooperation with companies that have operations located in Shiga Prefecture and local communities. In fiscal 2020, 15 smallhead sticklebacks were released into the newly established "Moribio" biotope, and a survey by experts confirmed that the number of smallhead sticklebacks increased to more than 600.
In collaboration with companies that have operations located in Shiga Prefecture (Biodiversity Biwako Network), we are involved in "Operation Dragonfly 100: Save Shiga's Dragonflies!" This project involves working with local communities to survey the habitat of the Sympetrum kunckeli variety of dragonfly, which resides in wetlands, and to conserve it using a container biotope. As part of our conservation activities, we also hold dragonfly observation sessions in riverside forests, which are inhabited by a variety of organisms, including dragonflies. In recognition of its dragonfly conservation efforts, the Biodiversity Biwako Network, of which we are a member, was awarded the Japan Nature Conservation Grand Prize in the Education and Promotion category. We intend to continue our conservation work in collaboration with various organizations.
Actions by Asahi Kasei Juko Co., Ltd.
Project to rediscover living with the woods and water in Higashiomi
The Shiga Plant of Asahi Kasei Juko (AKJ) is located in the Yuya area of Higashiomi City where there had formerly been a diverse lakeside ecosystem of ponds, rice paddies, and woods. There was a culture of life centered around ponds for irrigation and firefighting. By restoring some of the ponds, AKJ is preserving the habitat for local wildlife, conveying the importance of this to community residents through activities like observation tours. We also hold events at the plant, creating a venue that will lead to the protection of forests and crops as local resources.
In fiscal 2020, we did not hold viewing sessions for the general public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but under the guidance of experts, we protected and helped propagate the four-spotted skimmer, a rare species of dragonfly whose population is believed to have been declining in recent years. We used the "Yuya Hebel Biotope" that was created on the plant site in 2017 for the purpose of conserving the creatures residing in the waterside ecosystem.
Based on the results of a survey of nearby habitats, we improved the biotope and reservoirs to create an environment where the emergent plants favored by the four-spotted skimmer thrive, leading to natural flight and breeding activities. In early May, we confirmed the natural emergence of four-spotted skimmers within the biotope and reservoir. We also collected eggs from female specimens and transplanted them, and we confirmed the emergence of 55 four-spotted skimmers.
Actions in the Suzuka Area
The Suzuka Works uses the Kiso River system as its source of industrial water, which is used to cool equipment. The used water is discharged into a small river running through the plant. This small river converges with several other rivers and eventually flows into Ise Bay.
The waterside ecosystem of this small river is inhabited by small fish such as minnows, as well as the turtles that prey on them. There are also herons and other birds that visit the area to prey on the small fish, forming a food chain. Several dragonfly species have also been observed. One of these, Ischnura senegalensis, has been reported to thrive best in areas where aquatic plants are abundant.
To maintain a waterfront inhabited by such a variety of organisms, river management is conducted with the aim of balancing the biological habitat of the small river with its function as a method of flood control. For example, instead of repairing the banks with concrete, we try to maintain the stone piles that currently exist and preserve the plants on the riverbank out of consideration for the vegetation. We also attempt to manage the flow of the river to maintain variable flow (keeping it slow in certain places) at the water's edge by utilizing the natural environment through the cultivation of aquatic plants such as Limnophila sessiliflora. With regard to water quality, we are enhancing our management of the wastewater that flows from the plant into the river. We will continue to strive to maintain an environment where many waterside organisms can coexist.
Actions in Nobeoka and the Hyuga Area
Since 2007 we have participated in a reforestation program led by Miyazaki prefecture to create forests in cooperation with companies. We planted more than 44 hectares of broad-leaf trees and other trees native to the area, replacing plantations of cedar and cypress. This included 20 hectares in Hinokagecho, 20 hectares in Takachiho, 1 hectare in Gokase, and 3 hectares in Kitakatacho.
In fiscal 2021, we planted 3,000 trees on 2 hectares from among the approximately 5 hectares of field provided by Hinokagecho. Ordinarily, about 400 people would be invited to participate in the event on each occasion, but due to measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we planted about 100 trees, including commemorative trees, with 15 individuals from Hinokagecho, the Nishiusuki Forest Association, alumni associations, the Nobeoka Branch of the Labor Union, and the secretariat. The Forest Association was entrusted with planting the remaining trees.