Park Chong-ho, administrator of the Korea Forest Service (KFS), has announced its major business plan for 2020 which calls for “accelerating the people-oriented forest policy” to help Koreans enjoy nature as much as possible.
Viewing the 2019 achievements, Administrator Park said the Korea Forest Service has done its best to create forest jobs, create fine dust-reducing urban forests, and promote forest welfare. Moreover, the KFS put in place a registration system for management for forestry businessmen, which are a top client, and expanded the forestry loans. Of note, the KFS nurtured 52 “tree doctors.” A qualified tree doctor will work for a tree hospital, tasked to prevent impacts on trees and make diagnosis and treatments. The number of persons who have utilized forest welfare services has risen to 22.6 million in 2019 from 20.5 million a year earlier.
With regard to the large forest fires in Gangwon province last year, Administrator Park said the forest officials made all-out efforts to put out the forest fires earlier than in previous years by cooperating with related agencies. In addition, the KFS has proposed a peace forest initiative (PFI) to build trust between border countries through forests and create peace. Overall, he said the KFS has steadily worked for promoting inter-Korean forest cooperation, including the creation of a peace burial site in Goseong along the East Coast and a “new forest Korea” drive.
In 2020, he said the KFS will push its “people-oriented forest policy” and to this end, it will endeavor to implement the following major plans.
First, we will expand the forests “closer-to-our living” and strengthen the “tolerance of forest welfare” so that anyone can feel the benefit of forest. To cope with fine dust, we will create wind and blocking forests spanning 93ha. In addition, smart garden balls will be made available along with small gardens and indoor and outdoor gardens in a bid to improve the working environment of companies living in industrial complexes.
With a view to enhancing accessibility to forest welfare services, we will continue to expand forest welfare facilities in the communities and expand forest sports, forest trails and hiking trails. And we will designate the Baekdudaegan Marugeum Mountain Trail and Jiri Mountain Dullegil as national forest trails, and the DMZ Trails will test-run a guide tour that connects with local forest trails, such as Punch Bowl Dullegil.
In addition, the KFS will provide forest education programs based on ecological sensitivity and cultivate a safe forest education environment. In addition, we will create healing forest near the communities and nurture a medical-linked healing forest suitable for the elderly.
Second, we will implement a forest management system for co-prosperity. We will carry out basic forest management by reorganizing economic forests and revising the Forest Resources Act and spread the community co-prosperity model of leading forest management complexes. Based on the system of registration of forestry management bodies introduced last year to support forestry management, we will push for the introduction of a direct payment system for forestry, and devise measures to improve taxation.
What is more, we will enhance international forest cooperation centered on people, peace and co-prosperity. The Peace Forest Initiative will launch a pilot project with Ethiopia and seek to strengthen international support in conjunction with the P4G event. In addition, the World Forest Conference (WFC) scheduled for 2021 will be well prepared. Through the Asia Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), we will push for the New Southern and New Northern Policies and develop greater people’s participation ODA projects.
Third, we will create good forest jobs and put life into the forestry industry. The management bodies established through the creation of forest jobs will be encouraged to start business as social economic enterprises with support of professional managers.
Fourth, the KFS will nurture smart forestry and secure sustainable growth engines in the forest sector. We will expand smart forest nurseries using ICT technology and conduct forest fire prevention activities and forest disease detection using drones. In addition, the KFS will establish satellite information utilization plans based on agricultural satellites and improve the usage of advanced technologies such as drones.
In addition, we will expand R&D activity that will push innovative growth in the forest sector such as the 4th industry and services. In the forest life industry, we will carry out preliminary feasibility studies for development of smart forest biotechnology technology and also establish a new breed of plantation complex and the forest bio innovative growth base for stable supply of raw materials.
Fifth, we will build a safe forest, a healthy forest ecosystem.
The East Sea coastal area is at greatest risk of fire. We will deploy two large helicopters in Gangneung and Wonju cities. In addition, a forest aviation management center will be set up to manage DMZ fires.
Forest for people
Along with the public's increasing demand for quality of life, recreational activities in forests are becoming more popular evident with the growing number of forest visitors. Since 1988, the recreation forest project has been implemented to meet the public demand on forest recreation.
To enable the visitors to enjoy nature as much as possible, the recreation forests are equipped with eco-friendly facilities to a minimum unlike other outdoor recreation places. Visitors are guaranteed to spend some quality time taking a relaxing walk through forests and enjoying forest-bathing and nature.
Moreover, diverse environmental education programs are provided to help visitors have a better understanding of forest and nature. The KFS implements various mountaineering policies for creating and maintaining hike trails and operating mountaineering schools so as to ensure forest visitors and mountaineers have a safe and enjoyable hiking
ICT to be used to combat forest fires
The Korea Forest Service has unveiled a comprehensive plan to combat forest fires across the country, utilizing advanced information and communication technology (ICT).
A total of 650 forest fires occurred in Korea last year, destroying 3,254 hectares of forest. Of the total forest fires, 89 cases occurred during waste incineration and 60 cases caused by building fires. In addition to the incineration of hikers, new types of forest fires are on the rise, such as blowing wind lanterns, fireworks, electric sparks, and housing fires.
To combat the forest fires caused by a misfire or incineration of the hikers, advanced ICT equipment such as drones and surveillance cameras will be deployed in some areas.
In addition, a total of 166 helicopters, including related agencies such as the Ministry of National Defense and the National Emergency Management Agency, will be in operation during the forest fire control period, with two super-large helicopters to be deployed in Gangwon Province to combat-scale forest fires.
The Peace Forest Initiative Launched
In collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and the UNCCD secretariat, the Korea Forest Service hosted a high-level luncheon to launch a new initiative titled "Peace Forest Initiative" on Sept. 10, 2019 in New Delhi, India. The event was held in the margins of the 14thmeeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP14) and attended by about 100 delegates from countries from around the world and international organizations. High-level officials, including the Minister of the Korea Forest Service, Korea's ambassador for Climate Change and the Executive Secretary of the UNCCD also participated in this event.
The Peace Forest Initiative aims at promoting peace and confidence-building between neighboring countries through trans-boundary cooperation in sustainable land management as well as Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN), particularly, in fragile, conflict-affected areas.
TOP 10 Forest News of 2019
The year 2019 was one of the fruitful years for the Korea Forest Service.
Here are top 10 forest news of 2019 selected through a survey of journalists and KFS staff.
1. Early suppression of a harsh forest fire
A big forest fire broke out along the coastal area of Gangwon province in April 2019.
For early fire control, the KFS immediately committed helicopters as many as available including four jumbo helicopters to the fire scene. Together with fire-fighters, the KFS made all-out efforts and managed to put out the biggest of all forest fires with no further hazards to the forest ecosystem.
2. Operation of “E-forest Excursion”
A one-stop recreational forests reservation system called “E-Forest Excursion” is in operation now. This integrated reservation web-site (www.foresttrip.go.kr) is user-friendly: you can book any of those 147 recreational forests nationwide and make payment at once. The E-Forest Excursion was awarded in recognition of its most innovative public web-service by the Minister for Public Administration and Security last year.
3. Creation of urban forests against fine dust and city heat
The KFS set out to create fine dust break forests in outworn industrial complexes with the view of reducing fine dust and diminishing summer heat and traffic noise. A filter forest on 60ha is under construction to reduce pollutants and 11 break forests are being created on the outskirts of big cities to cool down the city heat during summer days.
4. Improvements in the treatment of forest firefighters
In the aftermath of the big forest fire in Gangwon province last April, the KFS has increased the forest fire-related workers from 300 up to 435 and sought to improve the treatment and working conditions.
5. Symposium on “Forests on the Korean Peninsula”
A symposium on “Forests on the Korean Peninsula” took place to discuss ways to enhance inter-Korea forest cooperation among officers from the central government, local governments and the private sector and NGOs. Further, a new slogan “New Forest Korea” was presented at the symposium, which is used for public campaigns on inter-Korea forest cooperation.
6. Support for eliminating African Swine Fever
Last autumn Korea was battling an outbreak of African Swine Fever. As part of preventative measures, the KFS supported aerial prevention against this epidemic by mobilizing 70 helicopters to the demilitarized zone and the civilian control line and deployed around 300 staff to search carcasses of wild boars.
7. Tree doctor license examination
The KFS initiated a tree doctor license examination for the first time last year. A qualified tree doctor will work for a tree hospital, tasked to prevent impacts on trees and make diagnosis and treatments. With the growing demand for green space in the living zones, a tree doctor is expected to be one of promising green jobs in the future.
8. The Second National Garden in the city of Ulsan.
Following the Suncheonman Bay National Garden, the Taewha provincial garden in the city of Ulsan was designated as the second national garden last June. This designation was made in recognition of the garden’s ecological value.
9. UNESCO designation of Gangwon Eco-Peace Biosphere Reserve
The Gangwon Eco-Peace Biosphere Reserve in Korea was designated by UNESCO last year. The Biosphere in Gangwon Province borders the southern limit of the Demilitarized Zone and reaches the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. It is home to a wide range of rare and endangered flora and fauna so the KFS is developing plans for conserving the Biosphere.
10. Inside promotion to Korea Forest Service Minister
Dr. PARK Chong-ho, who served KFS as Deputy Minister and Director General of International Affairs Bureau, has been promoted to KFS Minister. It has been 10 years since the last inauguration of Minister promoted from within the KFS. At his inauguration speech, KFS Minister Dr. PARK stressed the need to implement a “people-oriented forest policy.”