September 2022
Mosses supporting barren land

Goshikigahara Forest stretches over a lava field at the foot of Mount Norikura in Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture (Central Japan). The main primeval forest area is the highest rated primeval vegetation, equivalent to Vegetation Nature 9, Specific Plant Community Selection Criteria A, which is almost unaffected by humans according to the Ministry of the Environment's criteria. The mysterious nature of the area, with its misty atmosphere, we provided a good opportunity to learn about the primeval vegetation.


There are many undulations as the lava cools and hardens as it moves. The surface is covered with countless holes where volcanic gases erupt, and mosses grow thanks to the water that seeps into the holes.


In forests with poor soils, mosses play an important role. Mosses grow on the surface of the soil to hold moisture, and the seeds of plants germinate and grow with the moisture stored by the mosses. In forests spreading over barren lava belts, mosses play the role of soil.