By Kim, Flint Lab Inc.
Updated June 20, 2018
North Korea is ranked third in the world, after Nigeria and Indonesia, as a country with serious forest denudation. This is a serious problem affecting natural disasters such as floods, droughts and landslides, and the decline of species as well as the ecosystem structure. Especially, to make matters worse, an influence of the depletion is being spread to South Korea.
In fact, the forest area of North Korea is 8.99 million hectares, which is 1.4 times that of the Republic of Korea. North Korea is currently devastated by 2.8 million hectares, the 32% of its forest area. Annually, the forest the size of Pyongyang are being devastated.
32% of the forest is devasted in N.K
In 2012, the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Eun set up a 10-year plan for forest restoration and planned to plant 6.5 billion trees by 2023. However, it is reported that the North Korean government has not been able to deal with the goals and the situation is not improving because of the forest pests and fires, and also as residents are using the wood as a fuel substitute.
The reason why the Republic of Korea has succeeded in forest reforestation is that it replaced the firewood with briquettes or oil. On the other hand, in the case of North Korea, since Kim Jong Eun administration was inaugurated, the emphasis was on the forest greening, but still, there are many deficiencies. It seems to require a lot of preparation and takes time to be equipped. What's more important is not the planting of trees, but the concern of the how to look after and grow the trees.
A bare mountain in N.K (Left) Children lumbering trees for firewood from Rueters (Right)
Among them, South Korea and North Korea held the "North-South Summit in June 2018" and "North-South Summit in April 2018" in succession and confirmed the common goal of complete denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, And stepped toward the unification of the Korean peninsula that will bring about world peace without nuclear weapons in the only divided nation.
In a subsequent peace agreement, the government of the Republic of Korea decided to promote forest cooperation in order to implement the summit agreement.
First, the Forest Service is building a 3-hectare nursery to support North Korea in Gosung-gun, Gangwon Province, with the goal of completion next year. It is the intent to send seedlings raised in the Goseong area, which is similar in climate to North Korea, to North Korea. The demonstration areas include Gaeseong, Mt. Kumgang, and Pyongyang, which are convenient to move goods between the two Koreas. It plans to start designing seed storage facilities to support North Korea next year. It will save 35 tons of seeds by this year and will be used to restore 21,000 hectares of damaged forests in North Korea.
In addition, in the forestry union, the Forestry Greening Initiative for the Korean Peninsula was launched, in order to systematically prepare the forest ecosystem restoration project on the Korean Peninsula and the forest reforestation project in North Korea, which are known to have been devastated. In order to establish a sustainable forest cooperation system in South and North, instead of simple one-time support, we appointed specialists such as forest resource creation team, forest civil engineering team, and climate change team to establish realistic and immediate forestry and decided to make a possible implementation plan.
If the afforestation project in North Korea is successful, it can also bring about a situation where it can solve the fine dust problem with forest resources. One hectare of forest is known to absorb 168 kg of fine dust and air pollutants per year, and it is known that it reduces the fine dust by more than 50% when trees are planted around a tree line, houses and so on.
As the South-North cooperation is leading the ecosystem and environmental protection on the Korean Peninsula, the future of our industry will increase the demand for industries that can prevent forest degradation, alternative energy and renewable energy extraction industry, and waste recycling industry. Demand for low-carbon bio-heating and cooking products is expected to increase significantly. I am dreaming about the complete restoration of the devastated forests of North Korea and the ecosystem of the Korean Peninsula, and I will draw a future that will successfully accomplish forested greening of the unified Korean peninsula.