A vast forest lies in the Keio University Hiyoshi campus in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. The leaves are piled up on the ground, and the vine plants are wrapped around the tree. The flowers bloom and butterflies fly around them. Mushrooms grow in the lee of the rock, and birds chirp. The Hiyoshi residents once enjoyed the beauty of the forest but it had been abandoned since the 1960s. It is one of the largest greeneries in Yokohama, but deforestation has progressed.Nowadays, a group of concerned students and professors of Keio University are working together in an effort to save the forest.
Not many students are interested in this forest. Most of them graduate without even knowing its presence. To raise awareness among students, the group came up with an idea. “Let’s Take a Walk in the Forest of Hiyoshi with the President” is held every year in principle.
The most recent one was held on May 92015 which marked the 16 event. The participants explored deep part of the forest with the President, Atsushi Seike, accompanied by biology professors. They said they learned a lot from the event and they want to share the experience to other people.
The President was smiling when talking to the students throughout the event. After the stroll, he spoke about how the forest can be likened to a university.
“A forest is a collection of trees of different species and traits , and only through good interaction are they able to grow. This is similar to the relationship between students. I hope this forest will help enrich your lives here at Keio.”
According to the volunteer students, their major activities for the time being include planting trees in the winter and removing non-native species in other seasons. However it takes at least 15 years for trees to grow into a forest. One volunteer student says that she would be committed taking care of trees until they grow up.
Associate professor Nagaoka from the Faculty of Economics, Keio University leads this activity. She points out despite the growing efforts, there are still some places that are untouched. They hope more students and people in the local community to be engaged in conservation activities. In the future, they plan to build a pathway where people can stroll around the forest so that it will once return to a place where people can visit and relax. In addition, the group intends to hold e more events such as monthly study sessions to provide a wider perspective to as many people as possible.
Written by Rihoko Omura, Moeko Aramaki, Serina Omata
Edited by Tatsuki Yokosawa
It was valuable experience for me to see the great nature of Hiyoshi and to know that there are volunteers who maintain the forest. I’m deeply grateful to them for their conservation of forest of Hiyoshi and hope that more people become interested in this forest and conservation activity through reading this article.
Although I was unable to attend this walk event before writing, this article has made me want go visit the forest of Hiyoshi one day before leaving to another campus. This was a great chance for me to take a peek at the nature hardly seen in the suburb. I hope more people will have the chance to take walk in this forest.