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S. Korea to plant 3 billion new trees, joining global initiative

Infographic (Korea Forest Service)
Infographic (Korea Forest Service)

The South Korean government plans to plant 3 billion new trees over the next 30 years, joining the World Economic Forum’s One Trillion Trees Initiative, an ambitious global agenda suggested in 2020 to grow one trillion trees worldwide by 2030.

Earlier this year, the Korea Forest Service announced the new planting plan as a part of the country’s larger scheme to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

With estimated cost of around 6 trillion won ($5.3 billion), the project aims to restore forests here so that they would later become capable of capturing some 34 million tons of carbon emissions.

The plan includes logging aged trees and planting young ones as trees older than 30 years have poor carbon sequestration capacity, according to the state-run forestry agency here.

Most of the forests in the country were formed in the 1970s and 1980s during a nationwide afforestation effort. As those trees are now more than 30 years old, the carbon sequestration capacity of many forests in South Korea are on the decline, the Forest Service said.

As of 2018, local forests were capable of capturing around 46 million tons of carbon dioxide, covering around 6.3 percent of the country’s total carbon emissions. But the sequestration capacity is expected to drop to 14 million tons by 2050 if the older trees are not replaced, officials at the agency added.

South Korea’s plan for 3 billion new trees is also in line with a global move to refocus on forests as a nature-based climate solution.

The WEF’s One Trillion Trees Initiative is designed to support efforts on reforestation, restoration and deforestration prevention, such as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration that would run through 2030 and is led by the UN Environment Program and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Last year, the US also joined the worldwide initiative. The US senators Mike Braun and Chris Coons, co-chairs of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, in December introduced a bipartisan climate legislation to support US leadership in reducing carbon emissions by restoring and conserving forests, grasslands, wetlands, and coastal habitats.

The legislation, dubbed the Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act, aims to advance the US’ climate action agenda and the preservation of forests, according to the senators.

Sen. Coons said, “Removing carbon from the atmosphere is one of the many critical steps we should take to mitigate climate risks. I’m glad to work with this bipartisan group of senators to invest in a solution that will benefit the health of people and ecosystems around the world” in a statement released in December.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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