Landscape & ecosystem management of Korea
Korea is a typical mountainous country where forests account for 65% of total land mass. Forest ecosystem is vulnerable to degradation due to soil conditions and heavy rains that occur during summer. Since the early 20th century, forests have been devastated through excessive and illegal cuttings. Recently, the public demand for various benefits provided by forests, including watershed management and recreational sites has increased, hence, pressuring the government to implement sustainable mountain development. - In Korea, ecosystem management for sustainable mountain development has focused on three major areas; 1) an establishment of geographic information systems on forest environments and of ecological management techniques as a basis for forest ecosystem management, 2) the prevention and control of forest fire, insects and disease, and environmental stress which degrads the integrity of forest ecosystems, and 3) the promotion of various environmental functions inherent in forests. - Along with the 10-year periodic forest inventory, site survey across the country is under progress since 1995. Geographic map is being computerized into digital data bases. Research on classification of forests based on ecological characteristics and development of suitable management planning and practices are ongoing. To keep the forest ecosystem from forest fires, insects and disease, and other environmental stress including acid rain which recently emerged as damaging factor, and to maintain the productivity and health of the forest ecosystem, various projects and programmes have been initiated to enlarge the manpower for fire detection and prevention, modernize fire equipment, operate the monitoring and early warning system for outbreaks of forest insects and diseases, improve the biological control measures including application of natural enemies, establish acid rain monitoring systems, and to ameliorate forest soil quality. - To improve watershed capacities, forest management in the areas surrounding major rivers is intensified and erosion control dams are continuously constructed. Valley erosion controls are to be also tightened. The forest areas for recreation activities are increasing to meet the rapidly growing demand for recreational sites and to improve public health by adding forest bathing sites. - Currently the integrated rural development projects initiated by the Korean Forestry Administration since 1995 are under progress with major objectives of improving living conditions, promoting eco-tourism, and raising the income level by developing new income sources, including forest byproducts in forest communities. These projects are expected to achieve balanced and harmonized national land use and promote sustainable development in secluded mountainous areas in Korea.