Environment of South Korea
Forests were cleared over many centuries for use as firewood and as building materials. However, they have rebounded since the 1970s as a result of intensive reforestation efforts. The country's few remaining old-growth forests are protected in nature reserves. South Korea also has 20 national parks. One of the world's most interesting wildlife sanctuaries has developed in the DMZ, having been virtually untouched since 1953. The uninhabited zone has become a haven for many kinds of wildlife, particularly migrating birds.
Large mammals such as tigers, bears, and lynx were once abundant throughout the Korean peninsula. However, they have virtually disappeared due to human settlement, loss of forest habitat, and over-hunting. The Siberian tiger has not been sighted in South Korea since the 1920s. Bears and wildcats can still be found in the more remote areas, such as Jiri-san and Seorak-san. South Korea also has several indigenous species of deer, including the roe deer and the Siberian musk deer. Wild boars have been growing common in recent years, thanks to reduced hunting pressure.
The national flower of South Korea is the Hibiscus syriacus, a species of hibiscus that blooms continually from July through October. In South Korea, it is known as mugunghwa (무궁화), meaning "eternal flower". The unofficial national animal is the Tiger, for the peninsula seems like a tiger in a point of view. The unofficial national bird is the Korean magpie, which was chosen in 1964 through a poll organized by the Hankook Ilbo.
There are a number of environmental issues in South Korea. These include pollution, land use, and habitat preservation.
Global climate change
The South Korean government's July 2008 decision to boost investment into renewable energy to reduce its reliance on foreign oil imports may provide a boost to conglomerates' solar plans. The Ministry of Knowledge and Economy said the country intends to spend 194.4 billion won ($193 million) on technologies and projects, including solar, wind and biofuels, in 2008.
Forests and erosion
Over the centuries, Korea's inhabitants have cut down most of the ancient Korean forests, with the exception of a few remote, mountainous areas. The disappearance of the forests has been a major cause of soil erosion and flooding. Because of successful reforestation programs and the declining use of firewood as a source of energy since the 1960s, most of South Korea's hills in the 1980s were amply covered with foliage.
North Korean dam
News that North Korea was constructing a huge multipurpose dam at the base of Mount Kumgang (1,638 meters) north of the DMZ caused considerable consternation in South Korea during the mid-1980s . South Korean authorities feared that once completed, a sudden release of the dam's waters into the Han River during north-south hostilities could flood Seoul and paralyze the capital. During 1987 the Kumgang-san Dam was a major issue that Seoul sought to raise in talks with Pyongyang. Though Seoul completed the Peace Dam on the Bukhan River to counteract the potential threat of Pyongyang's dam project before the 1988 Olympics, the North Korean project apparently still was in its initial stages of construction in 1990. Construction was suspended on the dam until 1995. The second phase of construction was completed in October 2000.
City sewer systems are overtaxed. Other issues include water pollution from sewer discharge and industrial effluents, acid rain, drift net fishing, and wasteful packaging of consumer goods. Transboundary pollution concerns spurred the creation of a joint commission among South Korea, Japan, and China to address environmental problems.
- 박건영 (2006-12-01). "골칫거리된 까치". Kyeongin Ilbo. Retrieved 2006-01-20.
- Ministry of Environment South Korea
- Information on the Mt. Kumgang dam
- Comparative Study of Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo and Shanghai