May 17, 2012 11:30 AM

The Koya Pond Restoration Project

Itami Works (center) and Koya Pond (upper right)

▲Itami Works (center) and Koya Pond (upper right)

Located in Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture, Koya Pond is one of the Kansai region’s most popular stopovers for migratory birds. From autumn to winter, various water birds, such as wild ducks, arrive at the pond. In the middle of the pond is an artificial island in the shape of the Japanese archipelago. You can see the shape of the island out of a plane window immediately after taking off from Osaka International Airport.

Itami Works participates in the forest section of the local association for the protection of Itami’s natural environment. This association is working on a project to restore the natural environment of Koya Pond, which is adjacent to Itami Works. Since the works began to participate in the project, Mr. Miyake of the Safety & Environment Group of Itami Works has been serving as a coordinator to promote the project. He told us about the project.

Surrounded by a residential area, Itami Works aims to create an open environment. At the works, we invite members of the board of the residents’ association and other neighbors to the Inari Festival (April) and the Greenery-Floral Festival (November). We emphasize the improvement of mutual communication with the local community. We focus on mutual prosperity with the local community, not only by participating in the forest Section, but also by joining in local community clean-up activities, concluding a disaster management agreement with Itami City, among many other such efforts.

In April 2008, we began to support the project to restore the natural environment of Koya Pond. Every month, approximately six people from various group companies and divisions participate in an activity related to the project. In the last four years, a total of 282 people have participated in 49 activities.

The Association to Preserve and Grow the Nature of Itami was originally established to deal with the problem of saplings dying due to the droppings of great cormorants. The saplings on the artificial island (called the “Japanese Archipelago”), once rich in greenery, were seriously damaged, making it difficult to restore the saplings on their own. To help with the restoration of the green environment of the Japanese Archipelago, the association mainly promotes 1) picking seeds, 2) growing saplings, 3) planting the saplings on the Japanese Archipelago, 4) removing weeds, and 5) taking countermeasures against great cormorants. Of particular note is that the association does not purchase saplings available on the market but grows seeds from old trees in Itami and the surrounding mountains in order to restore plant species indigenous to Itami. The association is thus making long-term endeavors to improve the natural environment.

On March 27, a total of 28 people – 17 Itami residents, two from the Green Public Parks Division of Itami City, and nine from Itami Works – landed on the Japanese Archipelago, removed damaged saplings, added leaf mold to improve the soil, and planted approximately 40 deciduous trees, such as Swida. They also removed great cormorant nests and trimmed the branches of trees to prevent the birds from building new nests. While doing the work, which was unfamiliar to them, they held their heads back, causing a dull pain in their arms, back and neck. Moreover, since it was the great cormorants’ breeding season, many birds took up position on the trees of the Japanese Archipelago, giving off a more disgusting smell of droppings than usual. As shown in the photographs below, a mask was an essential item during the work, indicating how painstaking the work was. At the same time, they were able to enjoy one valuable experience. Although usually there is no other means than using a boat to reach the Japanese Archipelago, they were able to walk to the island from the neighboring shore; it was the season when the water level was low.

Planting saplings

▲ Planting saplings

Group photo to commemorate their activity (Sitting in the center is Mr. Miyake)

▲ Group photo to commemorate their activity (Sitting in the center is Mr. Miyake)

The growth rate of the saplings planted on the Japanese Archipelago is only around 50%, due to the soil quality, damage caused by the droppings of great cormorants, lack of sunlight due to weeds, which grow as tall as a person in summer, and other factors. However, Mr. Miyake said earnestly that Itami Works will continue supporting the activities of the Forest Committee to contribute to the restoration of Koya Pond with distinctive beauty of the four seasons. Now that the season of lush green has come, why not visit the Koya Pond Park?

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