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Comprehensive one-stop references on key development issues of Korea

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Themes
Reforestation Factors, Meanings & Applications of the Success

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Advisory Committee

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

Reforestation

Sub-Theme 4 | Factors, Meanings & Applications of the Success


Factors of the Success

The reason of the successful forest reclamation in Korea was that the political, administrative, economic and social conditions were harmonized with one another. At that time, it was lucky for Koreans to have all these favorable conditions while overcoming the destruction and hunger caused by the brutal Korean War in 1950. Such environment was created by the legitimate and transparent government and the diligent citizens.
 
1) Governance based on the appropriate comprehensive greening policy by the government and the follow-up monitoring of the planting sites. 
2) A high sense of duty and pride for the achievements of the greening project shown by the forest officials. 
3) Mental changes of the citizens and mobilization of farmers’ labor through the Saemaul Movement . 
4) Inducement of active participation of  farmers through  creation of profits and incentives.
5) Development of new erosion control technology and new tree cultivars for reforestation. 
6) Supply of coal as an alternative energy for the fuel wood through earning more income in the villages.
7) Cheap and abundant labor in the early stage, and decrease of village population in the later stage, resulting in less forest damage.


Ripple Effect

The thick forest shows a great ripple effect, providing people with various benefits. It provides both the economic and public benefits which can be calculated into monetary or non-monetary values, respectively.
 
1) Increasing level of production for timber and other forest products (including bio-energy and chestnuts).  
2) Reduction of the natural disasters such as floods, droughts and landslides.
3) Promotion of water resources through the improvement of the water-storage capacity of the forest.
4) Accomplishment of the self-sufficiency of the major grain rice through proper watershed management.
5) Promotion of  forest recreation,  forest culture and forest therapy.
6) Provision of the public benefits of forest equal to 2.16 million won annually for each citizen.


Meanings of Success

The successful forest reclamation has several meanings other than the above ripple effect. 
 
1) Recovery of natural beauty in the mountains.
2) Inspiration of self-confidence for the nation and expectation for becoming an advanced country.
3) Future international cooperation and dissemination of the reforestation technology to other countries.

Korea has provided the recipient countries with the Official Development Assistance (ODA) through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) since 1991, helping the reforestation projects of such countries as China, Mongolia, Myanmar and Indonesia. In 2010, Korea became a member of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and changed itself from the recipient to the provider of assistance. As the only country showing such a change, Korea has becomea role model for many developing countries. Also, the Forest Service has invited the forest officials from such countries as Indonesia, Dominica, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Jordan, Liberia and Ethiopia to provide them with forestry training since 1984. Recently Korean government has expanded the projects to Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. 


Lessons & Suggestions

The Korea’s successful forest reclamation has left several lessons and suggestions. It is believed that the Korean experience will be regarded as a guide for other developing countries.

Representative Public-Private Partnership (PPP)

It was possible to perform the forest reclamation in Korea by maintaining a close partnership between the government and the residents in the farming village. The government established proper ordinances in order to promote the active and voluntary participation of the farmers. It was possible to successfully establish the fuel wood forests thanks to the enactment of the related laws and the government support system which made it possible for the farmers to provide the fuel wood by themselves. In the initial stage, the government provided relief grains, while providing incentives or more income in the later stage for voluntary participation.
 
Confirmation of the Correlation between the National Income and the Successful Forest Reclamation

In a developing country, it is said that the forest reclamation is a task which is as difficult as the economic development. Therefore, if the problems related to the fuel wood are not basically solved in the farming village or if the national income is low, it is impossible to prevent the residents from exploiting the forest resources. In case of Korea, the forest reclamation was carried out together with the economic development, making a great contribution to the distribution of the alternative fuel. 

Importance of the Mental Attitude of the People

In Korea, the forest reclamation was carried out together with the Saemaul Movement, which put the emphasis on mental attitude of the people:diligence, self-reliance and cooperation. The Movement changed the farmers’ mind by educatingthem that forest reclamation would make it possible for farmers to do farming properly by preventing further flooding or drought. Through such mental changes, the farmers started to plant trees actively and  started to trust the government.

Effects of the UNKRA, AID, ICA and UNDP

Korea received special supports from the international societies for about 30 years from 1945. Such international supports and cooperative projects by United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency (UNKRA), AID, International Cooperation Agency (ICA), United Nations Special Fund (UNSF), USOM and UNDP, which were backed up by the United Nations and the United States, were quite helpful for the reconstruction of Korea ruined by a war. These supports enabled Korea to prepare a basis for its independence by developing science and technology.[1]


Its Applications to Developing Countries

In Korea, it was possible to successfully perform the forest reclamation within a short period with the help of the cooperative spirit among the residents of a village (the Durae spirit) which had been traditionally handed down, and with the help of high level of education fever based on the Confucian society.  Based on the Korean experience, it is possible to apply the following matters to developing countries.

Establishment of the Locally-Customized Forest Policies

Since each country has its own unique culture, society, religion and national emotion which are different from those of others, it is impossible to apply the forest policies which have been successful in Korea to other developing countries.. However, for each country, such tasks as  reexamination of the government organizations related to the forest reclamation,  establishment of the comprehensive forest reclamation policies based on the residents’ participation, preferential selection of the projects which are urgent on the site, method to establish the fuel wood forest which is suitable for the site,  forest reclamation using the natural vegetation, and  policy plan to mobilize the farmers’ manpower may be selected with the advice given by international experts before confirming their own projects.

Reinforcement of the Roles of the Forest Experiment Station & the Forest Training Center

The Forest Experiment Station develops the technologies for  stock raising, restoration of the vegetation, tree planting,  erosion control and  preservation of the soil, which can be applied to the forest reclamation, while introducing excellent foreign tree species or developing new species. The Forest Training Center provides the training of forest officials for the technologies related to the forest reclamation. 

Development of the Forest Reclamation Project in connection with the Income

The forest reclamation is a long-term project which makes it hard to have short-term benefit or income. Therefore, in order to promote farmers to participate in the project, government must provide rewards (incentives) for mobilization of farmers. Such incentive becomes a catalyst to help the farmers to actively participate in the project. It is the most appropriate to make a connection to income. It is necessary to develop such projects as  fuel wood forest establishment project which provides self-sufficiency,  stock raising nursery project which creates income, subcontracted erosion control project, and  reforestation project which makes it possible to produce forest products in the early stage (for example: the plantation of the fast-growing trees and the nut trees). 

International Cooperation through the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Project

The Official Development Assistance (ODA) project provides the free assistance and the technological support given by advanced countries to their developing counterparts. By using it actively, it is possible to select a system in a way that is suitable for one’s own conditions and based on the successful case of an advanced country. In Korea, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCo) have been established for these purposes.