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Seoul expresses hope for tackling deforestation in N. Korea

All Headlines 15:16 September 21, 2018

DAEJEON, Sept. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's forest service chief said Friday that his agency will examine ways to restore destroyed forests in North Korea by creating small nurseries in heavily ravaged regions.

"Forests surrounding populous urban areas were heavily destroyed, but forests in less populated regions were well-preserved," Kim Jae-hyun said in a meeting with reporters at a government complex in Daejeon. "I saw enough hope."

He was speaking after accompanying South Korean President Moon Jae-in's visit to North Korea from Tuesday to Thursday.

Kim Yong-nam (4th from R), North Korea's titular head of state, takes a photo with South Korean Cabinet ministers during their meeting in Pyongyang on Sept. 18, 2018. From right are Fisheries Minister Kim Young-choon, Culture Minister Do Jong-whan, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Kim Yong-nam, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, Defense Minister Song Young-moo, Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee and Kim Jae-hyun, head of the Korea Forest Service. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

As the first step, Kim said the Korea Forest Service will explore ways to create tree nurseries in much-destroyed regions.

"The North Korean side wants large-scale tree nurseries, but it would be more practical to start with small nurseries in regions suffering from deforestation the most," he said.

In regard to disease and insect control efforts, the official said the use of machinery could be limited as the North is under U.N. sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests, while pesticides are allowed.

"I think (the disease and insect control measures) should start immediately to build trust between the two Koreas," he said.

The forest expert said his North Korea visit as part of the official entourage showed Moon's "willingness" to pursue inter-Korean cooperation in the forest sector.

"Looking down from an airplane along the western coastline, North Korea's forests were very impressive," Kim said. "There were few trees on hills near Pyongyang, while trees were well-maintained on the way from Sunan Airport to Baekhwawon guesthouse."

Mountains near Yalu River on the North Korean border with China were denuded, but Mount Paekdu showed off all colors of beautiful trees, he said.

"Mount Paekdu was well-preserved," Kim said. "As (North Korea) is set to open the mountain to tourists, I think it needs a preservation policy for tourism."

The leaders of the two Koreas climbed the peninsula's highest mountain Thursday, the last day of Moon's three-day trip to the communist state for their third summit.


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