Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami, a Nuclear Power Plant, and Vegetation Maps

The earthquake and tsunami on Japan’s northeast coast had a profound effect upon the country’s infrastructure. The damage at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was particularly disturbing. The damage to the reactors at this plant have continued to be the focus of attention, for obvious humanitarian and environmental concerns. While another plant in the area, the Dai-ni plant, did not suffer damage to its reactors, the vicinity of the plant was also affected by the earthquake and surge of water. The entire area was scoured of plant cover, even of trees.

The Libraries own a unique collection, with material that would be of interest to anyone wanting to study the landscape of this region of Japan. The Küchler Vegetation Maps Collection is a large specialized collection of maps of vegetation of many regions. It happens that one of several sets on vegetation of Japan covers the affected portion of Fukushima Prefecture. Fukushima-ken Hama-dōri (Futaba-chiku) no Shokusei = Vegetation des Hama-dôri (Bezirk-Futaba) in der Präfektur Fukushima is a set of maps with text of the vicinity of these power plants. Japanese ecologist, Akira Miyawaki, mapped the area in 1975, and published the results in 1976. At that time Plant number I (Dai-ichi) had been built, and Plant number II (Dai-ni) was under construction. Map I shows the entire study area, maps II-IV, and V-VII show the natural vegetation and actual vegetation surrounding each of the plants.

"The Vegetation Map of Fukushima Prefecture" is map 7 of Shokuseizu, Shuyōdō Shokubutsu Chizu. It shows the vegetation of Fukushima Prefecture as a whole. Published by the Ministry of Education, Agency for Cultural Affairs, the series shows natural areas of various prefectures, and the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Two maps also in this collection show the vegetation of the entire country. Nihon no Genzon Shokuseizu = Actual Vegetation Map of Japan, 1975, and Nihon no Senzai Shizen Shokuseizu = Potential Natural Vegetation Map of Japan, 197?, are small scale maps useful for comparison with the larger scale maps above. All of these will have high value for studying loss of vegetation and restoration of the landscape.