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Reforestation Role of the Government: Establishment of the Forest Reclamation Policy and Efficient Execution of the Policy

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Advisory Committee

Lee, KyungJoon
(Professor emeritus, Seoul National Universtiy)
Youn, Yeo Chang
(Professor, Seoul National Universtiy)

Reforestation

Sub-Theme 1 | Role of the Government: Establishment of the Forest Reclamation Policy and Efficient Execution of the Policy

In Korea, government played the main role in forest reclamation. After the liberation of the country in 1945, Rhee Syng Man regime (1948~1960) failed to establish neither strong government nor enough budget for reforestation. Also, due to the Korean War which occurred soon, social chaos was quite serious, making it impossible to properly carry out the forest reclamation policy. In 1961, Park Chung Hee regime enacted the forest-related laws and organized the administrative institutions one by one, while stabilizing the society. 


Enactment of Laws related to Forest Reclamation

The Park Chung Hee regime (1961-1979) established various laws related to the forest reclamation which had not been enacted by the Rhee Syng Man regime. The eleven related laws enacted from 1961 to 1972 are as follow:

Forest Products Regulation Act (1961)Forest Law (1961), Erosion Control Act (1962), Temporary Act of Forest Reclamation (1963)Forest Protection Staff Arrangement Act (1963), Slash and Burn Farming Regulation Act (1966), Wild Animal Protection & Hunting Act (1967), Natural Park Act (1967), Introduction of the Greenbelt System in City Planning Act (1971)Land Use Management Act (1972), Forest Development Act (1972).

Among such laws and acts, the Forest Law in 1961 is the most important law which became the basis for the current forest law. Based on the law, the planting and the management of the national and private forests became institutionalized. Also, specific measures to prohibit destruction of the forest were provided. In particular, by making the Village Forestry Cooperative a public corporation, it was possible to promote a high level of participation of residents of the farm villages in the reforestation project. Also, with the Erosion Control Act, denuded forest land was reclaimed. Furthermore, Slash-and-Burn Farming Regulation Act made it possible to get rid of all the slash-and-burn fields, while greenbelt system was adopted to protect the forest around cities. 


Reorganization of the Administrative Structure

After 1961, the government attempted to recover the ruined forest by establishing various forest-related laws as shown above. However, it was difficult to stop immediately practice of collecting the fuel wood (including collection of the leaf litter) and illegal timber harvesting which had been carried out for hundreds of years. Therefore, the government realized the limit of the simple enactment of related laws and recognized the necessity for reorganization of  the forest administrative institution.

Establishment of the Forest Service (1967)

The government became aware of urgency of the forest reclamation. Therefore, in January, 1967, it expanded and reorganized Forest Bureau as Forest Service. With the new establishment of the Forest Service, it was possible to put fuel wood forest establishment project,  erosion control project, and  reforestation project on the right track. 

Transfer of the Forest Service to the Ministry of Home Affairs (1973)

After contemplation of the efficiency of forest reclamation, the government transferred the Forest Service from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1973. The Forest Service under the Ministry of Home Affairs was directly connected to local government (provinces, counties, cities, townships) under the same Ministry and was helped by the financial support of the local government. Also it was possible to make the most of the farmers through the Saemaul (New Village) Movement which was initiated by the same Ministry and was welcomed by the farmers with much enthusiasm at that time. In addition it was possible to reinforce protection of forest by mobilizing the police force under the same Ministry. Such government’s intension was right judgment, and the forest reclamation project was chosen as the national project with great momentum.

Establishment of the Forest Bureau and the Forest Department within the Local Government (1973)

When the Forest Service was transferred to the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1973, the government expanded  Forest Department of the provincial unit to  Forest Bureau and newly established three departments (in charge of  forest management,  tree planting, and  planting stock raising). Also, Forest Section in  cities and counties was expanded as Forest Department (Silviculture Section and Forest Protection Section), giving forest officials many opportunities for  promotion. 


Establishment & Execution of the Comprehensive Forest Reclamation Policy 

After the transfer to the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1973, Forest Service made comprehensive long-term nationwide forest reclamation plan. The plan included not only  policies related to  tree planting,  erosion control and  forest protection, but also those related to  alternative energy supplies,  frugal use of timber and promotion of  food production in forests.

The First Ten-Year Forest Rehabilitation Plan (1973~1982)

The project included reforestation of 1 million ha using 2.1 billion trees in 10 years,  tending care of 3.8 million hectare (ha) and  erosion control work on  84,000 ha. The three basic directions of the plan were as follows. 
 
1) National Tree Planting: Every citizen plants trees year round with the spirit of the Saemaul (New Village) Movement through villages, working places, homes, organizations, institutions and schools.
2) Economic Planting: The tree planting and preservation of the forest are to be directly linked to the increase in nation’s income, while a new economic zone is to be established in the mountain area.
3) Fast Tree Planting: The 6.67 million ha of mountains are to be completely covered with trees resulting in green revolution. In order to complete the forest reclamation early, many fast-growing trees are to be planted.
 
Also, loggers and companies consuming much timber should plant trees, while  fuel wood forests should be established by each village to produce fuels for their own. Furthermore, erosion control project is carried out to recover large ruined regions first, and planted-tree inspection system is chosen in order to inspect in autumn the survival rate of the trees planted in spring.
 
[Table 2. Comparison between Plans of The First Ten-Year Forest Rehabilitation Plan (1973-1982)
and Result of Early Completion of The Plan in 1978.
]
Classification Plan Result Ratio between lan and result (%)
Area
(Thousand ha)
Number of Plants
(Million)
Area
(Thousand ha)
Number of Plants
(Million)
Reforestation Timber trees 195 585 358 1,106 183
Fast-growing trees 300 607 360 756 120
Nut trees 300 120 154 61 51
Fuel wood forest 205 820 208 1,037 101
Total 1,000 2,132 1,080 2,960 108
Stock raising   2,132   3,054 143
Tending care 3,799   4,177   110
Erosion control 84   42   50

The Second Ten-Year Forest Rehabilitation Plan (1979~1988)

The goal of the first Ten-Year Forest Rehabilitation Plan was accomplished within only 6 years. The Forest Service established the second ten-year plan in 1979. The Plan was adjusted twice to plant 2 billion trees in 1 million ha and for the tending care of 150,000 ha of natural forests. The basic directions of the second plan included complete greening of  un-stocked area and the areas with urgent erosion control, formation of the large-scale commercial forest complex, development and planting of native woody species,  establishment of the plan for land use, exploration of foreign forest resources, development  of the forestry technology, timely supply and export of forest products and  promotion of  public benefits of the forest.

The Third, Fourth and Fifth Forest Basic Planning (1988~2017)

The goal of the second Ten-Year Forest Rehabilitation Plan was accomplished within only 9 years. The Forest Service changed the title of the plan toForest Basic Planning (1988~1997) in 1988, establishing planting plan for 320,000 ha in 10 years. The new plan focused on establishment of large-sized commercial forest, and promotion of income sources for  mountain village,  public health, environmental function of  forest, and  preservation of biodiversity. 

The fourth Forest Basic Planning (1998~2007), emphasized creation of new jobs through tending care of forests. In particular, in order to mitigate the IMF financial crisis which started in 1998, a large scale public labor project was expanded for planting of 200,000 ha, thinning of 730,000 ha and tending care of 930,000 ha in 10 years. 

The fifth Forest Basic Planning (2008~2017) included a planting plan for 240,000 ha in 10 years. By continuously establishing commercial forest complex,  domestic wood supply would be increased and health of  forest ecosystem and green spaces for amenity be enhanced.