Biodiversity | Environment | Sustainability | Asahi Kasei

Biodiversity

Policy

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

  • Asahi Kasei Group, Town Woods Program

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. 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.

  • Trees draw birds and butterflies / Feel the four seasons with flowers and autumn foliage / Taller tree 1 tree, 2 meters high / Medium tree 1 tree, 1 meter high / Shrubs 2 bushes, 0.5 meter high / Groundcover 8 plants
  • Town Woods Areas / Ezo/Mutsu / Kanto Region: Northern Coast, Inland, Southern Coast / Fossa Magna Region: Inland, Coast / Japan Sea Region: Northeast, Southwest / Mino/Mikawa Region / Atetsu Region / Sohayaki Region: Eastern Setouchi, Western Setouchi, Kii, Shikoku, Northern Kyushu, Southern Kyushu / Blue dots designate company locations

Town Woods Project: (FY2019-2021) Phase 1 Targets

Target I Install Town Woods Pots at all 41 Asahi Kasei Group operating sites
Target II Accumulate a total of 2,600 "Town Woods Points" during the period.
  • *Town Woods Points (Machi-Mori Point: MMP) Initiatives at all Asahi Kasei Group sites are divided into four stages. Each initiative earns Town Woods Points and the points are aggregated across the group.
  • *The targets for fiscal 2020-2021 have been reset according to results for fiscal 2019. (New targets)
  • Former targets, FY 2019: 400MMP, FY 2020: 800MMP, FY 2021: 1,200MMP / New targets, FY 2019: 1,090MMP, FY 2020: 1,800MMP, FY 2021: 2,600MMP / Results, FY 2019: 1,090MMP
Stage Example Initiatives
Stage 1: Installation
  • Installing the Town Woods Pots
  • Posting information about the Town Woods Pots
  • Maintaining them properly so they thrive
Stage 2: Observation
  • Recording trunk thickness and tree height
  • Photographing and recording information on features like flowering, fruiting, and foliage
  • Photographing and recording information on the wildlife that visits the Town Woods Pots
  • Photographing and recording information on naturally occurring vegetation
Stage 3: Dissemination
  • Actively disseminating information including photographs and records of observed plant and animal life both within and outside the site. The dissemination will take place online, through bulletin boards, directly communicating with the local community, etc.
Stage 4: Development
  • Expanding the initiative to other locations
  • Collaborating with other programs both within and outside the site

The Town Woods Program Study Meeting

On Thursday, November 7th and Friday, November 8th, the Town Woods Program Study Meeting was held at the Fuji branch office with 15 participants, targeting those in charge of branch offices and factories in large districts. In addition to introducing a range of initiatives in other regions and the efforts of other companies and industries to conserve biodiversity, a lecturer was invited to help participants get in touch with nature at the Asahi Woods of Life.

  • Listening in the woods

  • The study meeting

Publishing News on the Town Woods Program

Staff in charge at our various sites will be provided with news about the Town Woods Program and the seasonal highlights of plants showing their changes. Content that can be incorporated includes photographs from the sites showing implementation of the Town Woods Program, columns on wildlife, and topics on the plant and animal life in green spaces around the sites.

  • Town Woods Project News #1
  • Town Woods Project News #2
  • Town Woods Project News #3
  • Town Woods Project News #4

Interviews with local plant growers

We favor local saplings and seedlings for the Town Woods Pots, we have interviewed a grower who provides them for this initiative.

"Growing seeds taken from the wild. This is really interesting."

Matsui Farm Co., Ltd., Kiraku Farm Co., Ltd.
Takashi Matsui:
Plant advisor, horticulturist

We are a local plant nursery that grows and sells plants for gardening and green spaces. In addition to Japanese cedar, hinoki cypress, and pine trees for forestry, we also grow a variety of trees that can be found growing wild in the region. That includes native species growing locally that we collect seeds from and germinate. We sell the saplings as a "local product."

I became interested in local plants about 25 years ago. At the time, many of the trees on Lake Biwa's Chikubu Island died from contamination by the droppings of great cormorants. In order to regenerate the island's plant life, a project was started to collect seeds locally, grow seedlings, and reforest the original area.

One of the difficulties in dealing with native plants is that some varieties naturally only germinate when birds eat the fruits and expel the seeds along with their droppings. Such plants rarely germinate if someone simply takes the seeds and plants them. So we need to replicate the process that would happen if a bird ate the fruit. We rub it by hand to remove the skin and flesh and leaving scratches on the seeds. This allows them to germinate. The process differs depending on the variety, and through repeated experimentation we have learned to cultivate more than 100 species.

It's generally said that there is little demand for locally produced plants, but recently, I feel that private companies are gradually becoming interested in them in their efforts to conserve biodiversity. I'd like to see more local plants being sought out as society gains a greater understanding of this.

  • Seeds of native plants

  • Experimental cultivation employing varying soil and fertilizer conditions

Notable activities in fiscal 2019

Actions in the Moriyama Area
Ex-situ conservation of endangered smallhead stickleback, a freshwater fish

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, we started initiatives to protect biodiversity with a focus on water resources starting in fiscal 2010.
In fiscal 2015, we began ex-situ conservation activities focused on the smallhead stickleback, a freshwater fish which is designated as an endangered species. In fiscal 2019, we held a tour at Lake Biwa Museum in Shiga Prefecture for employees and their families to help conserve smallhead sticklebacks. During the tour, the curator explained the current status of smallhead sticklebacks and the importance, purpose, and results of ex-situ conservation. After that, we visited the Protection and Proliferation Center set up in the same building. 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 2019, in cooperation with Higashiomi City and other entities, we held wildlife observation tours lead by specialists during the plant's fall festival. These took place at the Yuya Hebel Biotope that was created on the grounds in 2017 to protect wildlife inhabiting the lakeside ecosystem.
We report on these activities both inside and outside the company through public relations magazines and other outlets. In June 2020, the Shiga Plant received the Director's Award in the Environmental Partnership Division of the Environmental Conservation Excellence Office sponsored by Environmental Conservation Association Of Shiga Prefecture (the award ceremony was postponed to November 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19).

Actions in Fuji Area
"Asahi Woods of Life" project

Asahi Kasei and Asahi Kasei Homes created the Asahi Woods of Life in 2007 as an ecotope on the grounds of our plant in Fuji City to restore the natural environment and village landscape of the Tagonoura area and preserve the local ecosystem. We have been conducting surveys and researching biodiversity there. By developing the Asahi Woods of Life, we nurture local plant and animal life via an ecological network that incorporates forests and the area's green spaces as a whole. We use this to support human development through environmental education and emotional training, applying the insight gained through these activities to business operations.

Principal Activities

  • To monitor and manage the growth of the Asahi Woods of Life, we perform surveys of the afforested area, including a fixed vegetation survey, a survey of each tree, a comprehensive vegetation survey, and a survey of birds and insect fauna. We also conduct a monitored survey of the creation of ecological networks in conjunction with ecosystem surveys of nearby parks, residential areas, and elementary schools.
  • In conjunction with government officials and museum personnel, we hold nature observation tours as part of our environmental education activities in connection with children's environmental clubs and other organizations.
  • We also hold a firefly watching event in early summer to deepen communication with the community.
  • In recognition of these activities, in July 2019, the project was received Stage 3 certification in the Nurturing Category of SEGES (Social and Environmental Green Evaluation System) administered by the Organization for Landscape and Urban Green Infrastructure.
  • SEGES

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 2020, we received an area of about 5 hectares from Hinokagecho. We were preparing for our first tree-planting festival (Hinokage Asahi no Mori III) on Saturday, April 25. It was canceled in accordance with measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are considering holding a tree-planting festival next year while seeing how the situation unfolds.

  • Corporate Forestation Signing Ceremony