Assistance in Making Forestry a Growth Industry in Gujo, Gifu Prefecture

2018-05-25

Assistance in Making Forestry a Growth Industry in Gujo, Gifu Prefecture

Strategy&, PwC’s strategic consulting team, assisted a nonprofit named Regional Renaissance Agency1 in addressing the issues faced by the forestry industry in the city of Gujo, Gifu Prefecture. The assistance was provided through a pro bono program carried out with the cooperation of international MBA students.

Staying true to PwC’s purpose “To build trust in society and solve important problems,” we implemented this pro bono program as part of our efforts to provide consulting services gratis to local governments and nonprofits confronting various issues by the Strategy& consultants forming a project team with international MBA students.

Located virtually in the heart of Gifu Prefecture, the city of Gujo is endowed with abundant greenery, with forests accounting for 90% of the land area. Establishing a Gujo mountain revitalization plan in March 2010, the city launched measures to develop forests and grow the forestry industry over the long term by promoting reforestation, lumber use, and human resource development. While the proactive measures taken by the city office resulted in increased lumber production, multiple issues were pointed out, such as the low profitability of forestry businesses and the declining number of forestry workers.

From June to July 2017, a team of five Strategy& consultants and five international MBA students took on the challenge of resolving these issues over a period of about three weeks. To formulate a Gujo forestry master plan, the team tested hypotheses, interviewed businesspeople and public officials involved in Gujo’s forestry industry, conducted on-site surveys, analyzed data, and held discussions. As a result, the team delivered the outputs listed below.

Value provided to Gujo’s forestry industry

Value provided to Gujo’s forestry industry

Elucidated the status and clarified the issues of Gujo’s forestry industry by collecting and systematizing information (e.g., lumber prices, supply volumes, and distribution channels) that had been possessed by individual forestry workers and officials.

Value provided to Gujo’s forestry industry

Proposed to the city a feasible mid- to long-term production plan that contained a total of 14 short- and long-term measures toward the resolution of the aforementioned issues.

Value provided to Gujo’s forestry industry

Contributed to greater motivation of people willing to engage in forestry businesses, by presenting the growth and improvement potential of Gujo’s forestry industry, showing ways to reinvigorate it, and establishing common ground and laying a foundation for future discussion on those points.

Strategy& will continue to support the city of Gujo in reinvigorating the forestry industry. At the same time, it will aim to make this initiative known nationwide as a model case for making forestry a growth industry, with a view to helping revitalize Japan’s forestry industry and conserve the nation’s forests.

On-site survey in Gujo

On-site survey in Gujo

Discussion with the city’s Forestry Affairs Department

Discussion with the city’s Forestry Affairs Department

Final report being presented to the mayor

Final report being presented to the mayor

“We believe accepting this pro bono program greatly benefited our city. With forests accounting for 90% of the land area, revitalizing the forestry and lumber industries is of paramount importance to us. Despite not being experts in forests and forestry, the trainees posed direct, to-the-point questions and made incisive recommendations, reminding us that making forestry a truly growing industry requires perspectives and ideas unbound by conventional frameworks. With a forest environment tax and other new systems about to be introduced, it was very opportune and invaluable for us to receive a proposal on where the city’s forest and forestry policies should be heading. We are also delighted to hear that, during an about three week stay in our city, the trainees were able to find time to enjoy local culture, in particular the Gujo Odori dance that is one of Japan’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties.”

—A Forestry Affairs Department official, Gujo City

“Pro bono programs are characterized as volunteer activities that contribute to society by drawing on professional knowledge, skills, and experience. This support program for Gujo’s forestry industry, however, was an opportunity in which we were also able to learn a great deal as consultants. Going forward, it will become even more important for businesses to create not only economic value but also social and environmental value. Furthermore, the forestry industry will be required to devise a growth plan with an eye to 30 to 100 years ahead so that it will be able to transform itself into a profitable industry not relying on subsidies in the future This pro bono program was participated by forward-thinking local government officials, nonprofit staff members, and social entrepreneurs as well as outstanding international MBA students, in addition to Strategy& consultants. Capitalizing on these diverse perspectives, we were able to address issues through constructive discussions, which I believe enabled us to compile our socially significant proposal in only three weeks.”

—Tomohiko Kitagawa, project leader, Strategy&

Note:

  1. The Regional Renaissance Agency is a nonprofit headquartered in Gifu Prefecture, working to create a sustainable local community.

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