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Fukushima radiation threatens to wreak woodland havoc via The Japan Times

FEB 17, 2013 PRINT SHARE
For Yuji Hoshino, mushrooms were a way of life. The 50-year-old farmer grew up watching his father raise shiitake mushrooms on their land at the foot of the mountains in Sanno, southern Tochigi Prefecture.

Later, he became the one to yearly cut about 15,000 logs, each about a meter long and the diameter of a coffee saucer, from oak forests near his home. He would stud these logs with specially inoculated spore pegs and then stack them in forests and greenhouses for the crop to mature. Three to eight years later, hundreds of thousands of fleshy, white-and-brown mushrooms would be ready to pick.
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“Log-grown mushrooms were a symbol of safe, chemical-free food. That’s been turned upside down,” said the stocky, self-assured farmer. “I can’t sell my products with pride anymore.”

Meanwhile, the future of the wild plants, animals, and insects in the coppiced oak woodlands where he used to cut logs for the shiitake crop are also threatened.

The same is true throughout northeastern Japan. Because mushrooms are more prone than other crops to absorb the radioactive cesium spread by the disaster, growers continue to suffer even in areas where other farmers have returned to business-as-usual. And because mushroom production is closely entwined with a certain type of forested habitat, troubles in the industry presage ecological as well as human impacts.

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