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Forest Ministry strives for ecological restoration in DMZ

Nam Sung-hyun, minister of the Korea Forest Service (KFS)
Nam Sung-hyun, minister of the Korea Forest Service (KFS)

The Korea Forest Service said on Sunday it would establish its third comprehensive forest management plan in a bid to ramp up its attempts to advance the ecology in the Demilitarized Zone that divides South and North Korea.

The five-year plan, set to be enacted in January, aims to enhance the biodiversity within the forest and expand the role of the DMZ as a carbon sink.

Carbon sinks are areas that store carbon-containing chemical compounds for an indefinite period and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

According to the KFS, the DMZ is currently functioning as an excellent carbon sink, with its 113,000 hectares of forest accounting for some 1.8 percent of the forest land in the country.

The DMZ is also home to multiple endangered species, as the zone harbors 101 species of endangered wild animals and plants -- 38 percent of the total 267 such species, according to the National Institute of Ecology.

"As one of the three major ecological axes of the Korean Peninsula -- along with Baekdusan and coastal island areas -- the DMZ is crucial for the preservation of Korea's ecosystem. In light of this, preserving this area and actively recovering degraded forest ecology are essential," said an official from the KFS.

The KFS has been implementing projects to restore the damaged ecosystem and strengthen biodiversity in the DMZ since 2009.

It has also carried out projects until 2021 to restore the forests of degraded lands in the country including abandoned military facilities, unused guard posts, and discarded excavation sites.

"I expect the DMZ’s forests -- which horizontally cross the Korean Peninsula -- to be systematically managed with the third plan," said Lee Kyu-myoung, director of the forest ecosystem restoration division at the KFS.

By Lee Kwon-hyung and Lee Yoon-seo

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