In a mountainous area in Fukushima Prefecture, junior high school students saw at trees as professional forest workers give them instructions and pointers.

"I can smell and feel the warmth of the trees," says one of the students participating in the field trip to Iwaki's Tabito district.

The trip is one of several local efforts to nurture a dwindling number of potential successors to conserve one of Fukushima's most important resources. While dealing with an aging population and restricted zones set after an earthquake and tsunami triggered reactor meltdowns in March 2011, the prefecture has been struggling to secure younger workers to sustain and revive its forests.