Policy / Systems / Technology

February 4, 2003


Kochi to Introduce Forest Environment Tax

Keywords: Climate Change Ecosystems / Biodiversity Local government Policy / Systems 

In December 2002, Kochi Prefecture announced its view on Japan's first local tax for forest conservation, slated to take effect in fiscal 2003. The forest environment tax aims at promoting prefectural residents' commitment in preserving the forests' public benefit such as water-source conservation.

Forests play important roles in preserving the local and global environments by purifying water and air, conserving ecosystems, and absorbing carbon dioxide. However, in Kochi, where forests cover 84 percent of the land, ill-maintained artificial forests are increasing because of the difficulties in forest management, resulting in such problems as declining headwater conservation, higher soil runoff and negative impacts on the ecosystem.

In order to curb the ongoing deterioration of forests, Kochi has been studying a new tax system, tentatively called the "Headwater Conservation Tax," for two years since fiscal 2001. The prefecture has disclosed the process on its website and through other measures, and has gathered opinions and suggestions from the public through questionnaires and symposiums. Based on the process, the prefectural government compiled its view on the environment tax.

The revenue obtained from the new forest tax will be used for new forest development focusing on environmental protection, with two main projects:
1. a forest-development campaign to promote public commitment by conducting forest-conservation activities by residents.
2. a project for maintenance of the forest environment, in which the prefecture makes arrangements with forest owners to maintain forests that are deemed important due to their public benefits and that need immediate attention. The prefecture will thin the forests on behalf of the owners, to bring them closer to the state of natural mixed forests.

Kochi plans to collect a 500 yen (about U.S.$4.20) annually per capita above the prefectural resident tax. To ensure that the revenue is used to fulfill the purposes, a "forest environment conservation fund" will be created to clearly distinguish the accounts. The prefecture plans to limit the taxation period to five years starting in fiscal 2003, and the revenue is expected to be around 140 million yen per year (about U.S.$1.2 million). The prefecture will to limit the taxation period to five years, and review the tax system after that period.

After hearing more opinions from residents on the new environment tax, Kochi will propose an ordinance to the prefectural assembly in February 2003.

Posted: 2003/02/04 03:11:29 PM
Japanese version