The Korea Herald


Seoul bans bee-toxic pesticides in parks, roadside trees

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : May 20, 2024 - 16:52

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A bee approaches a yellow flower in a park near Seoul in May (Yonhap). A bee approaches a yellow flower in a park near Seoul in May (Yonhap).

In a move to protect bees and promote a healthier urban environment, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced Monday a ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in parks and on roadside trees.

While the correlation between neonicotinoid pesticides and bee deaths is still under investigation, the Seoul Metropolitan Government cited the potential risks to the environment for its decision to switch to less harmful alternatives.

“We will minimize the use of chemical pesticides and expand eco-friendly pest control methods to contribute to a healthy urban ecosystem,” said Lee Soo-yeon, head of the city’s Parks and Recreation Bureau.

According to a report jointly published by Greenpeace Korea and Andong National University in May last year, 7.8 billion bees suddenly died off from honey bee colonies in South Korea during the winter of 2021. Additionally, 10 billion bees died between September and November of 2022, and 14 billion bees died in early 2023.

Instead of pesticides potentially harmful for bees, the government said it will use the least toxic pesticides that are registered by the Rural Development Administration for pest control.

Limited exceptions will be allowed. Specifically, if there is a high risk of pine wilt disease, the use of certain neonicotinoids — authorized by the Korea Forest Service -- on pine trees in specific areas of Seoul will be allowed.

The city government will also conduct on-site monitoring to ensure compliance with the new ban.

Meanwhile, four Seoul locations — Gildong Ecological Park, Seoul Changpo Park, Namsan Park and West Seoul Lake Park — will be designated as pesticide-free zones and managed using eco-friendly pest control methods.