After implementing a series of successful forestation projects in developing countries over the past years, the Korea Forest Service is now planning to expand its global partnerships.
The agency’s top priority is currently North America, where a considerable proportion of the world’s forest is located.
Last week, the KFS signed a memorandum of understanding on forest cooperation with the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources in Ottawa. President Park Geun-hye, who was on a summit visit to Canada, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the signing ceremony.
“Canada is highly advanced in forest management and its experience will offer us valid guidance,” said KFS Minister Shin Won-sop.
Korea Forest Service Minister Shin Won-sop (left) shakes hands with Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford on Sept. 22 in Ottawa, Canada. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on forest cooperation during President Park Geun-hye’s visit to meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (KFS)
Also, the bilateral agreement with Canada indicates that the KFS will henceforth communicate more actively with developed countries, he added.
“Up to now, we have largely focused on working with developing countries and restoring their waste land,” Shin said. “In the future, we will put more effort into interacting with advanced countries and learning from successful precedents.”
The KFS has established partnerships with 28 countries, mostly in Asia, Africa and South America, according to officials.
The most recent partnership the service forged was with the Algerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, based on which the KFS is to help restore forests and modernize parks in Algeria.
The KFS previously signed an agreement with the United Nations-affiliated Food and Agriculture Organization to support reforestation in northern Africa. It is also a member of the UN-REDD program, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in developing nations.
To maintain sustainability in its work, the KFS said it is placing priority on keeping track of the model examples of forestation from developed states such as Canada.
At a prior ministerial meeting, Shin and his counterpart Greg Rickford suggested that the two countries begin joint research on forest carbon emission ― a key pending agenda for the forest industry.
Also, the Canadian minister said that he would dispatch top-level experts to the sixth International Wildland Fire Conference, which is to be held in Pyeongchang next year. Canada hosted the second round back in 1997.
“We will share our Technical Guide for Tall Wood Building, first of all with Korea and then with the rest of the participants of the conference,” Rickford said.
The North American country currently incorporates 10 percent of the world’s total forest area, which is about 45 times the size of the Korean Peninsula. It is also the world’s No. 2 in the paper-making industry.
“In addition to its affluent forest resources, Canada is also an ally of half a century, as the country had sent the third-largest number of troops during the Korean War back in 1950,” the KFS chief said.
“The latest forest cooperation agreement between the two countries will not only boost the preservation of green areas but also reinforce their general diplomatic and economic ties.”
It will also be of help to the Korea-Canada Free Trade Agreement which is expected to be ratified within the year and take effect early next year, he added.
For further implementation of the bilateral forest cooperation agreement, Canadian Forest Service assistant deputy minister Glenn Mason will visit Korea next month, KFS officials said.
By Lee Kwon-hyoung and Bae Hyun-jung