BRUNSWICK — A group of Japanese logging professionals is looking to Maine as a model for sustainable forestry methods.

The group from Miyazaki Prefecture, on the southern island of Kyushu, is developing a program that certifies its practices as safe and environmentally sound. To learn about Maine’s certification program, it is spending part of this week touring logging operations and talking with representatives of the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands.

On Monday, the group of seven visited a 50-acre parcel on Mosswood Road that is being harvested by Maine Custom Woodlands, a certified master logging company in Durham.

The group, called the Himuka Ishin no Kai Loggers, includes landowners, a college forestry professor and several loggers. Forestry is a traditional industry in Miyazaki and Japan, where two-thirds of the land is forest, about 40 percent of which is planted.

“We are working to start our own certification system,” said Ichiro Fujikake, a forest economics professor at the University of Miyazaki and an adviser to Himuka.

Maine’s logging industry was the first in the world to establish a certification program to promote environmentally sound logging. Since the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine created the Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands to administer the program 11 years ago, it has been adopted in New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York.

In Maine, 88 logging contractors are certified under the program, which involves an eight-month review and training. Certification costs about $3,800 per contractor, along with a $300 to $800 annual fee.

Being certified as a master logger means a company adopts practices for managing the harvest, protecting water quality, safeguarding the forest ecosystem, maintaining the soil and emphasizing workplace safety, among others.

This is the first visit from an international group, said Beth Ollivier, the conservation trust’s executive director.

While Maine loggers deal with snow and mud season, Miyazaki’s foresters deal with soggy conditions.

“We have very steep slopes and much rain,” said Masashi Kuroda, who owns about 2,500 acres of forest.

The region gets an average of 138 inches of rain a year, compared with Portland’s 45 inches. “We worry about typhoons and mudslides,” Fujikake said.

On Monday, Tom Cushman, owner of Maine Custom Woodlands and president of the conservation trust, described how his company’s sustainable harvesting practices are aimed at protecting the watershed and soils.

He said that wood certified under the trust’s program is in high demand, as consumers seek products that are produced without harming the environment.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: [email protected]

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