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The University of Tokyo Tanashi Forest

1. History and Summary

Established in 1929 and named the Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Forestry Tanashi Nursery or Tama Nursery, the University of Tokyo Tanashi Forest (UTTF) was originally under the management of the Laboratory of Silviculture. In 1956 UTTF was handed over to the management section of the University Forest. In 1963 its name was changed to the Tanashi Experimental Station and the administration hierarchy was expanded. In 1982 the area was entrusted to the University Forest management. It was attached to the facilities of the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences along with the Department of Agriculture’s Graduate School in 2000. In 2011 its name was changed to the University of Tokyo Tanashi Forest. The University of Tokyo Tanashi Forest cooperates with the Institute for Sustainable Agro-ecosystem Services and the Asian Natural Environmental Science Center and contributes to education and research in the Tanashi district.

2. Location

The Tanashi Forest is located in Nishitokyo city, Tokyo metropolitan area. It takes about 1 hour from the Hongo campus of the University of Tokyo. Because of its convenient accessibility, many professors and students frequently visit the Station for research and educational purposes. The Tanashi Forest is located almost in the center of the Musashino area and the secondary forest, characteristic to this area, has remained in the Forest, though nearby forests have been lost to residential development. Accordingly this place is familiar to the general public as a valuable green oasis in the city.

3. Land condition

The forest’s total area is about 9.1 hectares, and its altitude is 60m. It is located on a flat area in the Musashino terrace (Musashino side) of the Musashino Plateau. As for geological features, the gravel bed (gravel layer of Musashino) adjoins a volcanic ash layer of 6-8m in thickness (loamy layer of the Kanto district). The black earth, where the volcanic ash layer is made of mother material on the loam layer, is distributed giving a soil of thickness of 50-60cm. Annual mean temperature is 14.8ºC and annual mean rainfall is 1,610mm.

4. Forest condition

The Musashino forests have a long history of exploitation. But the Tanashi forest’s natural habitat has remained although it is only a small area. Dominant tree species are Quercus serrata, Quercus acutissima, and Castanea crenata, Carpinus tschonoskii, Styrax japonica. Shrubs and climbers such as Deutzia crenata, Rosa multiflora, Chaenomeles japonica, Ailanthus altissima, Rhus javanica var. roxburghii, Euonymus sieboldianus, Euscaphis japonica, Aralia elata, Acer palmatum, Viburnum dilatatum, Celastrus orbiculatus, and Hedera rhombea are also found. On the forest floor there are many grass species. The demonstration forest and arboretum include about 244 species of which 63 are coniferous trees and 181 broad-leaved. The presence of a forest in the city is considered a valuable asset.

5. Education for students

Having been established under the management of the Laboratory of Silviculture, this University Forest has been continuously used for practical training courses in silviculture. Fundamental skills for nursery work such as sowing, cutting, grafting and planting of forest trees have been taught at here. This University Forest is also used for fieldwork in forest zoology and forest botany. Silviculture study experiments and forest zoology experiments by third-year Department of Agriculture students are additionally conducted 5 or 6 times a year, and these experiments are currently being undertaken by 25 to 30 students.

The University of Tokyo Tanashi Forest contributes a great deal to undergraduate and graduate students majoring in forest science, institute for Sustainable Agro-ecosystem Services and related fields, providing a practical location and materials for their theses. It also similarly contributes to researchers inside and outside the University in their ecological and ecophysiological forest research.

6. Research

The University of Tokyo Tanashi Forest also includes nurseries, greenhouses, and biological laboratories. These facilities make up the academic research environment of the Forest combining field and laboratory facilities. Major research themes at the Tanashi Forest are urban forestry and tree physiology. An outline of the research and educational activities of the Forest is as follows.

(1) Urban forestry

The Tanashi Forest is located in the suburbs of Tokyo, and surrounded by residential areas. Making use of its geographical characteristic, the aim is the establishment of urban forestry.

The gas exchange of nursery stock and forest trees was first studied in the 1950s. Primary production of forest trees, population ecology of small animals and the interaction between insects and plants have also been studied. In recent years, considering the importance of urban forests, research on the ecosystem and management of urban forests to maintain and enhance their functions has been conducted by long-term ecological observation and biological interaction analysis. Furthermore, considering urban forests to be a wood biomass energy source or a suitable location for environmental education, research in surveying the future relationship of the community and urban forests has been conducted.

(2) Physiology of trees

The physiology of seeds, nursery stock and forest trees has been studied from the point of view of reproduction, nutrition, water economy, and hormone and gas exchange. These have been among the major themes since the establishment of the Forest. Recently, the physiological ecology of trees has been included in the areas being studied, especially water relations and gas exchange in relation to the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide and global warming. Physiological status and stress physiology of urban trees are also studied. Research into the population ecology of insects harmful to trees started as a part of the research into tree health in the first half of 1980s. Research on tree health has been advanced by aiming it at three problems: research into pine wilt disease, the mass mortality of oak trees, and the defense reaction of the tree to pathogens.

7. Education for society

The Tanashi Forest provides various types of forest and nature educational programs for children and the general public. Moreover, the Forest is open to the public on weekdays, and sometimes during public holidays. Tens of thousands of people visit the Forest for nature observation.