Korea sets up global alliance in forestation

Once deforested areas are now filled with trees planted by a Korean corporation in Indonesia sponsored by a campaign contract between the Southeast Asian country and Korea. Seoul hopes to expand such cooperation in the future.

Despite increasing demand for timber in line with development in China and India, importers complain of difficulties in securing sufficient amounts due to stiff logging regulations.

From the perspective of timber exporters, they counter that logging has exploited forests posing serious environmental threats.

Korea has discovered a way to satisfy both sides at the same time.

“Our companies plant trees for reforestation in suitable foreign nations. Then, they can cut down some of them for industrial use,’’ a Korea Forest Service (KFS) official said.

“Then, the firms can successfully obtain lumber while the mountains and lands become greener. Everybody can be happy.’’

Asia’s fourth-largest economy already has such partnerships with 12 countries including Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Russia, Paraguay and New Zealand.

The KFS aims to agree contracts with eight new countries including Turkey, Japan, Chile, Brazil and Argentina.

“We agreed to sign an MOU with Chile early next month and talks with the remaining seven partners are underway.’’ the official said.

“Such efforts will also help the world grapple with environmental problems at a time when climate change and deforestation are taking place across the world. Our experience with forestation will be of help.’’

Korea was notorious for its deforestation in the middle of the 20th century when people felled trees to use as an energy source but campaigned to reverse the trend.

Now Korea is again a heavily forested region and is an example of fomenting forestation and economic growth simultaneously.

The Asian Forest Cooperation Organization, a new entity proposed by the KFS in 2009 to accelerate forest cooperation and prevent degradation and desertification in Asia, is supposed to open next year and will be based in Seoul. <Korea Times/ Kim Tae-gyu>

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