|Volunteers brave the rain to wrap trees on Bukhan Mountain on Sunday. (Fahim Jan)|
Volunteers braved Saturday’s rain to protect trees on Bukhan Mountain, where conservationists say 350,000 trees are dying from Oak Wilt disease. But the group will return to the national park in northern Seoul this Sunday to finish the task.
Despite the wet weather, 350 people turned out to help at the mountain, which receives an average of five million visitors a year.
Oak Wilt is a bacterial disease that causes leaf discoloration, wilt, defoliation and the death of affected trees. The disease is widely spread across the mountain by insects that live in the tree bark. Since there is no cure, prevention is the only option.
Mannam Volunteer International had arranged to wrap 600 affected trees with a biodegradable sticky film made from sweet potatoes to prevent the spread of the disease. But volunteers were unable to wrap the trees as planned because the tape would not stick well to the trees in the rain.
A small group wrapped a handful of diseased trees after donating money toward the project. But most expat volunteers manually delivered bags of soil up the mountain to cover exposed roots instead.
“We put earth on the revealed roots to protect those trees from dying,” volunteer staff member Alexandrnya Schoeppl said. A lack of soil means a lack of nutrients for trees.
Mannam organized the event to mark international Earth Day.
Volunteer Adam Rozalowski, from Poland, said: “It’s too bad that it rained, but everyone was in good spirits and we had a good time. A lot of foreigners here enjoy hiking in the mountains, so this is something that we can do to give back.”
Volunteers are now needed to complete the project of wrapping diseased trees this Sunday. Donations are still being accepted for the project to cover the cost of supplies. The bank account is IBK: 305-060799-01-017.
More volunteer opportunities can be found on www.mannamintl.org.
By Kirsty Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org