Natural Water Sanctuary Activities -- For the future of water and life
Suntory is a "water" company.
Without quality water, we are unable to produce any beer, soft drinks, or whisky.
This is because water, especially groundwater, serves as Suntory's lifeline.
This precious groundwater (natural water) is nurtured in the forest.
In order to maintain safety and reliability of groundwater as well as sustainability, we are cultivating water resources in forests which is more than twice the amount of water used by our plants. Therefore, plant water resource protection areas are specified, with a focus on our Institute for Water Science,and mid-to-long-term agreements are established with local government and forest owners to maintain forests, leading to the establishment of Natural Water Sanctuaries.
In addition to the first sanctuary location established in Aso City, Kumamoto Prefecture in 2003 and the newest sanctuary called "Natural Water Sanctuary Northern Alps" (located in Omachi City, Nagano Prefecture) in March 2019, there are 21 Suntory Natural Water Sanctuaries in 15 prefectures which comprise a total area of approximately 12,000ha.
<Natural Water Sanctuary> Development Targets
(1)Forests with a great capacity for cultivating water resources
(2)Forests rich in biodiversity
(3)Forests able to withstand flooding and landslides
(4)Forests with great CO2 absorption capabilities
(5)Beautiful forests where visitors can encounter nature in all its abundance
(used for education programs, etc.)
*1When there contracts and agreements with different durations, the longest duration is given.
*2Automatically renewed every 5 years.
*3In Nagaokakyo, Kyoto, we are a member of the Nishiyama forestry development promotion committee and we are cooperating in local forest preservation activities with people in the community. The area of the forests subject to this activity is not counted as part of our total Natural Water Sanctuary area.
Looking at Groundwater -- Comparing simulation models with results from field surveys
One of the main purposes of our Natural Water Sanctuary activities is to improve the function of forests for recharging water resources.
As a way to evaluate the results, Suntory has been trying to quantitatively evaluate the amount of groundwater recharge using a groundwater flow simulation model since 2006 and is finally approaching a level of accuracy which would allow the model to be used. Through the simulation of groundwater flow, we attempt to simulate where groundwater passes and how long it takes to reach the factory, and combine it with field survey information to deepen understanding of the underground which we normally cannot see. We would like to incorporate these results into the maintenance plan which will lead to more effective water resource cultivation activities.
Forest Cultivation Which Looks 50 years and 100 Years Into the Future
All forests are different. So what are the special characteristics of each Natural Water Sanctuary as well as the issues that they face?
At first, we engage in activities that follow the RPDCA cycle which includes scientifically-based survey and research (Research), which serves as the foundation, creation of a vision (development plan) suited to each forest (Plan), maintenance work conducted by professionals (Do), verification of results (Check), and consideration of measures for improvement/conducting re-examination (Action).
The areas and fields of investigation and research targeted by Natural Water Sanctuary activities are diverse and linked organically. In doing so, cooperation based on the knowledge and skills of experts in various fields and of people in local communities is indispensable. We also use Natural Water Sanctuaries to conduct activities including human resource development support for passing on knowledge and skills (road creation, preventing damage from harmful animals, etc.), Suntory Mizuiku - Education Program for Nature and Water, which allows children to experience the importance of forests since they cultivate water, and First Hand Experience with Forestry by Suntory employees.
Suntory continues implementation of Natural Water Sanctuary activities in order to provide the blessing of nature, something that cannot be replaced, to our children, grandchildren, and future generations to come by first humbly listening to various related issues and work together with local communities to gain knowledge.
A Healthy Forest is One Full of Life -- Protecting Biodiversity
If there are many different types of plants in a forest, there will be an increase in the types of small animals that eat them, resulting in attracting animals that eat those small animals. In a healthy environment like this, a pyramid formed by various organisms is completed.
In addition to the Natural Water Sanctuaries that act as water resource cultivation areas for our plants in Japan, Suntory is also engaged in risk evaluation and strategic management through continuous monitoring of the ecosystem in our existing businesses. We designated water resource cultivation areas at our plants even when moving forward with new businesses and comprehensively evaluate risks with the cooperation of experts in a wide range of fields as done with other Natural Water Sanctuaries. We manage each of these areas based on a medium- to long-term visions.
In the forest for the water resource cultivation area in our Aso Natural Water Sanctuary for example, we maintain, test, and survey the forest with the aim to enhance the recovery and conservation of the biodiversity as well as the water resource cultivation function, such as experimenting with tree thinning to create hunting grounds for birds of prey. We aim to nurture a richer ecosystem throughout the entire river basin by entering into agreements with the local people such as winter rice fields filled with water to fallow the land, the setup of fishways and a survey of life conducted with the cooperation of universities and neighborhood elementary schools.
Suntory is pioneering action to build a society rich with biodiversity through its involvement in the Declaration of Biodiversity by Keidanren in January 2011 as well as participation in The Double 20 Campaign platform that helps the company engage and cooperate with people who are working to achieve the Aichi targets advocated by the Japan Committee for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-J) in November 2017.
Biodiversity in a Natural Water Sanctuary from a Bird's Perspective
One of the main purposes of the Natural Water Sanctuaries is the revitalization of a wealth of biodiversity, and experts from the Japanese Society for Preservation of Birds carry out wild bird research every year (insect and animal research is also periodically conducted). We have formulated a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) and continually work to improve that plan at our Natural Water Sanctuaries throughout all of the primary bases of the Suntory Group.
The plant and animal life living in the forest will change if the typical functions of the forest can be revitalized. Focusing on wild birds, which are said to serve as a barometer of a given environment, we conduct wild bird surveys by specialists in the Natural Water Sanctuaries every year based on the idea that it is possible to comprehensively grasp the changes in the entire ecosystem that supports them.
In addition, nest building and rearing of chicks by eagles and hawks at all the Natural Water Sanctuaries in Japan has been raised as targets toward 2020 with the purpose of advancing the development of a forest rich with biodiversity by taking the perspective of natural wild birds in the Natural Water Sanctuaries.
Becoming More Familiar with Natural Water Sanctuaries
Ikurinzai - Timber From Cultivated Forests Project
It is necessary to cut down trees in order to keep a forest healthy. The Suntory Group calls wood material made from Natural Water Sanctuary activities to nurture sustainable water and forests "Ikurinzai - Timber from cultivated forests, carefully using all the conifer and broad-leaved trees removed during tree cutting, road creation, and other activities.
Case Examples of Timber Utilization Inside and Outside of the Company
Natural Water Sanctuary Forum 2018
Based on the goal of "Creating Forests Which Nurture Water and Life," specialists in a variety of fields who provide coaching and collaborate in Natural Water Sanctuary activities are invited the form which serves as an opportunity to share the newest expertise and policies for future activities. The forum was held eight times from 2011 to 2018.
First Hand Experience with Forestry by Employees
Many group employees and their families have volunteered in Natural Water Sanctuary activities up to 2013. Since 2014, so that each employee experiences and understands the values of our corporate philosophy "To Create Harmony with People and Nature," a total of about 7,400 people (including about 800 volunteers) participated in the First Hand Experience with Forestry activity for Suntory Group company employees, mainly current employees of Suntory Holdings Ltd. and Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd.
University of Tokyo "The Wisdom of Water" (Suntory) Corporate Sponsored Research Program
Suntory Holdings Ltd. established the University of Tokyo "The Wisdom of Water" (Suntory) Corporate Sponsored Research Program in April 2008, and it has held this research program for five years. By cultivating more social interest in water, we are engaging in the various activities below with the aim of contributing to the education of research in academic fields while promoting solutions of water issues as well as developing a rich water environment.