• Japan

Forest resources and context of Japan

Japan has one of the richest forest resources in the world and is nurtured by a wood culture.

Land surface


million ha

Forest cover


million ha

Forest ownership


% public

Forest ownership


% private

Forest resources in Japan

Types of forest

The total area of forested land in Japan is about 25 million ha and has been stable since the 1960s. The composition ratio of natural forest and planted forest has not changed since the 1980s. The main species of planted forest are Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar), Chamaecyparis (Japanese cypress) and Larix kaempferi (Japanese larch), with the former two species having the desirable features of fast growth, straightness and ease of processing.

The expansive afforestation measure, which aimed to replace broad-leaved forests with coniferous trees, was implemented by the Forestry Agency mainly from the 1950s to the 1970s. The Forestry Agency encouraged Japanese cedar, Japanese cypress, Japanese larch, Sakhalin fir and Japanese red pine for new planting, even introducing subsidies for this purpose, because of their fast-growing characteristics and straightness.

Japan has one of the richest forest resources in the world and is nurtured by a wood culture. Forestry was a declining industry during the rapid economic growth after World War II, but since the 2000s, the role of forestry and wood processing industries have become more important with the diversification of wood use, partly due to the maturation of planted forest resources.

Forest ownership in Japan

In March 2017, the ownership of forested area in Japan was composed of national forests (31%), private forests (57%), and publicly owned forests (12%). The publicly owned forests belong to local public entities, including prefectural and municipal governments and the communal districts. According to the 2015 Census of Agriculture and Forestry, the scale of private forest ownership is characterized by its small scale: the number of individual forest owners with a forest area of 1 ha or more is over 800,000, and their total forest area is more than 5,000,000 ha.

key figures

Land surface 36.5 million hectares
Forest cover 24.9 million hectares (68.2%);
mostly primary forest (21.2 %) and other naturally regenerated forest (38.3%)
40.5 % (10.1 million hectares) is planted forest
Production forest Unknown
Forest ownership 59 % privately owned
41 % publicly ownership
Annual change rate -0.01 % per year; over the past 10 years (2010-2020)


Source: FAO, 2020
See also: Global Forest Ressources Assessment 2020, FAO

Global Forest Watch Map

Global Forest Watch Map Japan