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Japan to independently measure its forests’ carbon absorption

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TOKYO >> Japan’s government plans to develop its own method of measuring the country’s plant resources, with the goal of accurately determining its carbon dioxide absorption levels.

Since July, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, the Environment Ministry and the Forestry Agency have been recruiting private companies, universities and research institutes to participate in the project.

The new method is expected to use satellite and ground-based data, as well as information gathered by aircraft via radar.

The project team will spend several years examining the optimal combination of measurement data for various landforms, including mountains, forests and rice paddies.

Japan has about 25 million hectares of forests, covering about two-thirds of the country’s total land area.

According to a government estimate, the nation currently has about 10 million tons of plant resources, but the estimate is believed to cover only about 70% of the nation’s forest resources because it does not take into account topography and tree species.

Japan’s figures have not been recognized internationally. Countries often refer to data gleaned by NASA and other independent organizations to calculate their forest coverage.

Nations with relatively few forest resources have lower estimates of CO2 absorption, which means Japan could be called upon by the international community to reduce its CO2 emissions by more than it believes is necessary.

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