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Landscape Restoration in North Korea

DPKR official presenting during
the seminar.

Imagine an entire country of 24 million people undergoing massive deforestation, land degradation and food shortages, leading to ecosystem collapse. Now imagine that country’s people having virtually no contact with the outside world and being ruled by a hard-line communist regime. What do you do? How can you help? You begin by reaching out and starting a dialogue.

A forester demonstrating a
unique method to inoculate
bare root seedlings with
nitrogen fixing legume seeds.

I just returned from a fascinating trip to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). I was there to participate in the International Seminar on Forest and Landscape Restoration, hosted at the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, the capital of DPRK. The three-day event, co-sponsored by the Pyongyang International New Technological and Economic Information Centre (PINTEC, an NGO in DPRK) and Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP, an NGO in China ), was followed by three days of field trips and follow-up meetings.

Along with 12 other delegates from China, Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, and the U.S., and over 60 DPRK officials and scientists,

Typical degradation of the landscape

I discussed the challenges and opportunities to reforest more than 120,000 km2 of mountainous land, introduce agro-forestry and improve the livelihoods of millions of people. Despite very real concerns with the current repressive regime, the North Korean people and their landscape need desperate help.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will blog about my impressions along with the needs and challenges (ecologically, culturally and politically) associated with restoring the North Korean landscape. I hope you will participate with your perspectives.

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