One tree, one goal, one Komatsu
“Never had I imagined that I would manage a tree planting project in Indonesia...,” said Chikaya Sakai, who now leads Green Business Promotion Department (Forest & Agriculture) of Construction Equipment Marketing Division at Komatsu Ltd.
“I thought I was working for a heavy equipment manufacturer,” he grinned.
Nevertheless, he has been a core member of the Komatsu reforestation project in Indonesia since the very beginning in 1992.
The tropical forests in Southeast Asia are vast. Especially important for those forests are the dipterocarp species, which dominates the ecosystem. Its timbers are also known for their high commercial value and were exported to many countries. Reforestation efforts followed but none proved successful, and decrease of the tropical forests was becoming a major concern.
It was at that time that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan launched a reforestation project to resolve the problem. Komatsu stepped up to collaborate and dispatched Sakai, who had the background and expertise in biology.
The dipterocarps that are called Lauan in the Philippines or Meranti in Indonesia, are one of the most difficult species to plant artificially. Not only do they produce seeds once every few years, but their germination ability also declines very quickly. Quite simply, it was known to be impossible to provide a stable supply of saplings at the rate needed. Against all odds, and having struggled with endless trials and errors, Sakai and team finally succeeded in developing a vegetative propagation technique to produce a large quantity of saplings by using stem method.
Sakai cannot remember how many times he hit the wall or got stuck in deadlock. But he had local partners who shared the same goal and supported him. “At the end of the day, it is all about having a good sense of balance. You must speak up for yourself as well as understand the point of view of others. Keeping a balanced mind was the key to guiding our team and reaching our goal.” said Sakai, contemplating.
With the establishment of the new technology, the project operation expanded to four locations in Indonesia and transfer of the technology proceeded rapidly.
In 2006, the reforestation project in Indonesia came to an end. By then, Komatsu was deep-rooted in reforestation in the country and we continue to support an array of objectives: sapling technology transfer, distributing saplings, forest maintenance, and receiving students and researchers from across the world. The year 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the reforestation project in Indonesia.
Today, the dipterocarps forests have grown so big that they have become popular ecotourism destinations. Many bikers and hikers visit from Jakarta every weekend. The dipterocarps are tall and rise above other trees, regarded as a symbol of the tropical forest in Indonesia, and are cherished by local people. “It is incredible that such a small sapling grows so tall and brings joy and smiles to the people,” said Sakai, all smiles.
The reforestation in Indonesia is but one example of the CSR activities that Komatsu and its partners continued to conduct around the world. And in 2021, Komatsu’s 100th anniversary year, we launched "One World One Komatsu", a CSR program engaging employees using a dedicated platform for employees to share their activities. Every day, employees around the world engaging in environmental actions are connected across languages and borders, through the platform. Each individual action starts as something simple and small, such as reducing water consumption or turning off lights when not in use, to collectively move towards a greater goal: creating a sustainable future.
On April 22, 2022, we celebrated Earth Day, the day we think about the global environment, for the second year in a row. On this special occasion, Komatsu employees participated in the Earth Day Challenge, in which they engaged in activities such as planting trees in their local communities or picking up trash in a park or a location near their workplaces.
“Just have a go at it and keep doing it.” says Sakai. “In order to keep the earth sustainable, it is important that each and every one of us continue taking actions”.
For years, our CSR activities have been promoted and driven by people who shared the same goal across the world. Indeed, they are expanding like branches of a dipterocarp reaching for the sky, thriving for a better tomorrow.