What has been the most successful rainforest reforestation program?



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    That depends on how  you define “successful.” An argument can be made that the most successful reforestation initiative of all time was the one instituted in feudal Japan in the 17th century, shortly after the Tokugawa Shogunate came to power. Japan, a richly forested land in antiquity, was severely denuded of trees over a period of centuries from the early Middle Ages to 1600. After the victory of Tokugawa Ieyasu and his assumption of control over Japan, the shogunate mandated by law processes of forest management that we would today call “silvicultural”–essentially, sustainable forestry. Given hundreds of years to take their course, the Tokugawa reforms resulted in an island that, given the history of similar environments over time (such as Easter Island) should have been barren and impoverished, but which today is a very rich country awash in natural resources and rife with robust forests. This unique success story is little understood outside of Japan, and was the subject of Conrad Totman’s 1989 book “The Green Archipelago.”

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