Tackling deforestation: Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Tackling deforestation: Democratic People's Republic of Korea

People living in rural areas of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) used to depend on their forests for shelter, food and energy. Now these forests are being cut down, and this is having a huge impact on people’s lives. Since 2001, Concern has been working with the people affected.

In the past, 65% of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was covered by forest, which was protected by the government. Recently though, major shortages of fuel and building materials have brought changes. The forests are being cleared to make way for development. Rural communities are being asked to farm on steep, deforested slopes where they are only gaining short-term crop benefits. Without forest, the mountain landscape is being exposed to severe erosion and flooding.

Importance of forestry

People living in rural areas are largely dependent on the country’s natural forests. They use wood for building houses, cooking food, and as a much needed energy source in winter time. Temperatures can drop as low as minus 26 degrees. In times of food shortages, the naturally growing vegetation in the forests also provides people with an extra source of nutrition. Rural communities who rely heavily on forestry are now experiencing serious problems and the environment is suffering hugely

Concern’s forestry programme

In the last few years, we’ve been dealing with these problems. We’ve put in place new methods to reduce soil erosion, control flooding and secure supplies of drinking water. New cropping techniques are helping farmers to preserve valuable farmland. The management of forests has improved and communities are growing new trees.

Fast-growing tree species that can be used for fuel and timber are also being identified. This will result in less of the natural forest being chopped down. Efforts are also being made to rehabilitate the natural forests by planting native plant species. Lastly, we are working to share valuable lessons learnt through this natural resource management programme with local people and officials and the wider international community.

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