Mongolian Students Learn about Forest Management in Japan; Exchange Program to Encourage Collaborative Research

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A student from the National University of Mongolia speaks about the condition of Mongolian forests in the village of Minami-Minowa in Nagano Prefecture on Nov. 7.

MINAMI-MINOWA, Nagano — Students from the National University of Mongolia recently visited Japan to learn about its forest management and afforestation techniques in a program conducted by Shinshu University’s Faculty of Agriculture in the village of Minami-Minowa in Nagano Prefecture.

The program is designed to promote exchanges between students of both universities through visits to wood processing facilities and sites with dying pine trees. Shinshu University hopes that the exchanges will contribute to the schools’ joint research toward solving problems in the field.

Shinshu University began dispatching its faculty members and students to Mongolia to conduct field research on forests and the environment in 2014. According to Koh Yasue, associate professor at the university’s Faculty of Agriculture, Mongolia is also in need of nurturing human resources in the field of forest preservation and developing countermeasures against the death of pine trees, which is believed to be caused by nematodes.

This year, the university planned the academic exchange to take place in the prefecture, which has been selected as part of the Sakura Science Exchange Program of the Japan Science and Technology Agency. The program aims to support the development of human resources in the field of science and technology and promote collaboration and interaction among educational institutions.

Under this program, nine students and faculty members from the National University of Mongolia arrived in Japan on Nov. 6. The following day, students from both universities discussed the current condition of forests of their respective countries at Shinshu University’s Faculty of Agriculture.

Mongolian students actively asked questions about afforestation techniques used in Japan. They also explained that sheep and goats are causing damage to the vegetation in their country, whereas in Japan, deer are seriously impacting vegetation by overgrazing.

“I’d like to learn about the changes in vegetation caused by global warming and how to control the death of pine trees,” said Odrentsen Lkhagvajargal, 27-year-old student from the Mongolian university, who is studying the impacts of harmful insects on trees.

Kohei Yamashita, 23, a first-year master’s student at Shinshu University, made a presentation on the impact of climate change on forests. He explained how rising temperatures and reduced snowfall are affecting alpine vegetation and pollination.

“I think this was an opportunity for Mongolian students to learn about the challenges Japan’s forestry industry is facing,” he said. “I myself want to obtain knowledge on forestry from students with different specialties and majors.”

Students from both universities visited various sites in the prefecture during the Mongolian students’ stay in Japan through Nov. 12. They went to a site with dying pine trees in the city of Matsumoto to pursue solutions and studied techniques for afforestation and forest preservation in the village of Matsukawa.

“We hope students share the current state of forests in their countries and develop what they learned into effective countermeasures and meaningful research outcomes,” Yasue said.