Archive for the ‘National Coordinating Council for the Environment’ Category

International Crane Foundation

Friday, February 27th, 2009

On my last visit to North Korea in 2005, fellow Atlanta native Ted Turner was also in Pyongyang (not at the Yangakdo unfortunatley, but the centrally-located Koryo Hotel) working to secure the DMZ as a crane reserve.  It turns out that this effort is fairly well organizaed and funded.  Below, I have attached some articles, names, and organizations involved in this movement:

The International Crane Foundation

Since 1974, ICF has been involved in conservation efforts for the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the three mile wide strip of land between the divided neighbors that provides a home during migration or winter for half of the world’s White-naped Cranes and a quarter of the world’s Red-crowned Cranes.

Conservation in Korea

“For more than three decades, I have been coming to Korea to see the cranes that spend the winter along the DMZ. About one-third of the world’s 2,500 Red-crowned Cranes depend on the DMZ and the nearby Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ) as their only remaining sanctuary on the peninsula. The Cheorwon Basin in the central highlands has the greatest numbers of cranes, while smaller flocks live in the Yuen Cheon valley, the lower reaches of the Imjin River, and the tidal flats around Kangwha Island.

The Red-crowned Crane is an auspicious symbol of good luck and long life throughout the Orient and cranes worldwide are a symbol of peace. Now perhaps the Red-crowned Crane can be a flagship for the conservation of the DMZ.

I have always tried to help my Korean colleagues in their efforts to save that priceless strip of land that’s carpeted by a grasslands, wetlands, and forests restored by the creative forces of nature over more that a half-century. Although it has been exciting to see modernization sweep it’s magic wand over Korea, it is alarming that humans now have such power to transform landscapes so quickly.

If the remaining natural landscapes of the DMZ and the CCZ are to be saved for nature, Korean conservationists from all walks of life must join together in a united front to negotiate with those more interested in development. This is now possible through a movement started in 1996 by two Korean Americans, Dr. Ke Chung Kim (a scholar) and Mr. Seung-ho Lee (a businessman).

To promote the conservation of the DMZ, they created a non-governmental organization called the DMZ Forum. I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors.

Under the leadership of Mr. Hall Healy (an environmental planner), the DMZ has created a Coalition for the Conservation of the DMZ. Although this Coalition had its birth in the USA, its operation will be “Koreanized” with leadership from an effective and prestigious Korean citizen and supported by a coalition of individuals and organizations primarily from Korea, but also from other nations. Only through the power of partnership, can these treasures of nature from “The Land of the Morning Calm” be saved.”

Recently, ICF held an event.  Here is the email they sent out (h/t Mike):

For years, hundreds of the magnificent Red-crowned Cranes wintered in lowland wetlands and organically-maintained agricultural fields in the DPRK.  With the rise of chemical fertilization after the Korean War through its alliance with the USSR, crops were plentiful in the DPRK, and the field gleanings provided sustenance for the cranes.  With the collapse of the USSR, the cheap source of fertilizer dried up, and after two decades of chemical dependence the organic farming methods had been lost.  Hungry humans foraged for food where the cranes had once wintered.  The cranes moved south, in and around the DMZ and the Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ).  These two zones, however, have been targeted by developers as potential sites for future cities.  The plan for the re-introduction of wintering cranes in the DPRK addresses teaching the local people organic farming methods anew and relies on using captive cranes to attract wild cranes during their autumn migration.

Through collaboration among colleagues of the Korean University in Tokyo, the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), BirdLife International, the International Crane Foundation, and Pisan Cooperative Farm of the DPRK, work is underway to restore the Red-crowned Cranes as winter visitors on the Anbyon Plain located in DPRK.  The project began in the spring and summer of 2008, and it is hoped that it will lead to communication between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea on the conservation of red-crowned Cranes in both nations.

From the event’s web page:

Through collaboration among colleagues of the Korean University in Tokyo, the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), BirdLife International, the International Crane Foundation, and Pisan Cooperative Farm of the DPRK, work is underway to restore the Red-crowned Cranes as winter visitors on the Anbyon Plain located in DPRK.  The project began in the spring and summer of 2008, and it is hoped that it will lead to communication between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea on the conservation of red-crowned Cranes in both nations.

For years, hundreds of the magnificent Red-crowned Cranes wintered in lowland wetlands and organically-maintained agricultural fields in the DPRK.  With the rise of chemical fertilization after the Korean War through its alliance with the USSR, crops were plentiful in the DPRK, and the field gleanings provided sustenance for the cranes.  With the collapse of the USSR, the cheap source of fertilizer dried up, and after two decades of chemical dependence the organic farming methods had been lost.  Hungry humans foraged for food where the cranes had once wintered.  The cranes moved south, in and around the DMZ and the Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ).  These two zones, however, have been targeted by developers as potential sites for future cities.  The plan for the re-introduction of wintering cranes in the DPRK addresses teaching the local people organic faming methods anew and relies on using captive cranes to attract wild cranes during their autumn migration.

More links:
The DMZ Forum web page

DMZ Coalition

Media hits

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North Korea’s environment crisis

Friday, August 27th, 2004

BBC
Alex Kirby
8/27/2004

[NKeconWatch: Here is the report-  DPRK_SOE_Report.pdf]

The UN and officials in Pyongyang have agreed the first-ever assessment of the state of the North Korean environment.

The report was written by North Korea’s national co-ordinating council for the environment, together with the UN’s Development and Environment Programmes.

The head of Unep said Pyongyang had shown its readiness to work with the world community to safeguard nature.

The report lists a catalogue of neglect and over-exploitation of resources, and says time is short to put things right.

The report, DPR Korea: State Of The Environment 2003, was produced by officials from 20 government and academic agencies, with training and guidance from the two UN programmes.

Future collaboration

It was compiled as a result of a visit to Pyongyang in 2000 by Unep’s executive director, Dr Klaus Toepfer.

He and Dr Ri Jung Sik, secretary-general of the national co-ordinating council, have now signed a framework agreement on joint activities to improve environmental protection.

The report covers five areas: forests, water, air, land and biodiversity. It says the most urgent priority is the degradation of forest resources.

Forests cover 74% of North Korea, but almost all are on steep slopes. In the last decade the forests have declined in extent and quality.

The report says this is because of timber production, a doubling of firewood consumption, wild fires, insect attacks associated with drought, and conversion of forest to farmland.

On water it says demand is rising “with economic development and the improvement in standards of living”, and calls for urgent investment in domestic sewage and industrial water treatment.

It notes that large quantities of untreated wastewater and sewage are discharged into rivers, and says some diseases related to water use “are surging”.

Air quality, the report says, “is deteriorating, especially in urban and industrial areas”. Energy consumption is expected to double over 30 years, from almost 48m tonnes of oil equivalent in 1990 to 96 million tonnes in 2020.

North Korea’s use of coal is projected to increase five times from 2005 to 2020, underlining, the report says, “the urgent need for clean coal combustion and exhaust gas purification technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy alternatives.”

On land use, the report says self-sufficiency in food production has been a national policy aim in North Korea.

Changed priorities

But it continues: “Major crop yields fell by almost two thirds during the 1990s due to land degradation caused by loss of forest, droughts, floods and tidal waves, acidification due to over-use of chemicals, as well as shortages of fertiliser, farm machinery and oil.

“Vulnerable soils require an expansion of restorative policies and practices such as flood protection works, tree planting, terracing and use of organic fertilisers.
“Recognising such issues, [the country] adjusted its legal and administrative framework, designating environmental protection as a priority over all productive practices and identifying it as a prerequisite for sustainable development.”

North Korea is home to several critically endangered species, among them the Amur leopard, the Asiatic black bear and the Siberian tiger.

Squaring the circle

It has signed up to international environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, though the report notes a continuing “contradiction between protection and development”, which it says is being overcome.

In a wider context, the report says: “The conflict between socio-economic progress and a path of truly sustainable development is likely to be further aggravated unless emerging issues can be settled in time.”

It says environmental laws and regulations need to be formulated or upgraded, management mechanisms improved, financial investment encouraged, and research focused on priorities.

Dr Toepfer said North Korea “has shown its willingness to engage with the global community to safeguard its environmental resources, and we must respond so it can meet development goals in a sustainable manner.”

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