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World Forestry Congress to open discussion on forests, climate change

UN secretary-general, heads of various international organizations to attend meeting

Park Eun-sik, secretary-general of the XV World Forestry Congress and director-general of the Korea Forest Service’s international affairs bureau
Park Eun-sik, secretary-general of the XV World Forestry Congress and director-general of the Korea Forest Service’s international affairs bureau

The World Forestry Congress, a five-day gathering that kicked off on Monday in Seoul, is where all stakeholders in the industry are meeting to review and discuss policies on forests and the environment under the theme of “Building a Green, Healthy and Resilient Future with Forests,” according to the secretary-general of the congress.

The congress, held every six years, is the largest and most significant gathering of members of the world’s forestry sectors, providing a venue for exchanging views and experiences on all aspects of forestry and the environment, including climate change, biodiversity and other issues.

“The theme was selected to recognize the importance of forests in promoting the health of the Earth and people, and consider forests as essential elements to make the future sustainable,” said Park Eun-sik, secretary-general of the XV World Forestry Congress and director-general of the international affairs bureau of the Korea Forest Service.

The meeting is attended by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other heads of various international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Global Environment Facility and International Renewable Energy Agency.

Government officials, international and civil society organizations, representatives from academia and businesses are also attending this global gathering.

Park said the event is meaningful because it is held for the first time in Korea, the only nation successful in reforestation since World War II.

“In the 1970s, Korea accomplished reforestation through people’s voluntary efforts and the government’s policy support. The destruction of forests brought about avalanches, floods and other disasters, and reforestation began when people started to notice the importance of our forests,” the secretary-general said.

The government also supported this movement through various policies, he said.

“For instance, by implementing the tree management system, it started to analyze the survival rate of trees in many regions. Illegal logging was prohibited, and public officers with the highest planting rates were promoted or received incentives from the government,” Park said. “The Korean government began to make a better environment for tree growth by introducing eco-friendly policies.”

Korea’s successful forest restoration story is recognized worldwide.

“Many researchers and policymakers want to visit Korea to see the sites and learn from the reforestation techniques,” he said.

The Korea Forest Service has shared some forest restoration know-how with Mongolia and China to help prevent deforestation. It is currently also helping Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and other Southeast Asian countries and countries in Central Asia, South America, and Africa with reforestation techniques.

“Within the backdrop of XV World Forestry Congress, the Korea Forest Service plans to distribute its superior forest management policy worldwide and will be a leading country in advanced world forestry issues,” Park said.

(shinjh@heraldcorp.com) (kwonhl@heraldcorp.com)

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