Project facts (on-going): CARITAS/UNDP partnership bears fruit, or rather, trees

News and Press Release
Originally published


A UNDP Reforestation project is protecting agricultural land from soil degradation and erosion

AREP Support Project for Reforestation

Recent years have seen a marked increase in deforestation and consequent soil erosion in DPRK. This has largely been caused by the increasing encroachment of agriculture on hill slopes. This encroachment has intensified as farmers struggle to boost food production. The increased pressure placed on farmers because of the food crisis has led many of them to deforest slopes to make way for crops. Forests are also under threat as people cut down trees for fuel for cooking and heating.

The problem has its roots in unprecedented flooding, which hit the country in 1995 and 1996, causing massive landslides and intensifying the problem of erosion even further. Many of these deforested slopes lie vulnerable to further landslides, should the country be hit again by heavy rainfall.

Erosion of soil will in-turn make the problem of declining food production even worse, as it decreases the amount of fertile land available, meaning that farmers have to encroach on even more forest.

Compounding the problem is the fact that many of the country’s tree nurseries were destroyed or heavily damaged during flooding in the mid-nineties. Of the 90 Ministry of Forest run nurseries in DPRK, 30 were damaged. Sixteen have subsequently been rehabilitated.

In order to help stop thisvicious cycle, UNDP is supporting the Government’s efforts to reforest sloping land and therefore increase productivity of low-lying adjoining farmland. Plantation forests of fuel wood will also provide farmers with a viable alternative to encroaching on forests to obtain material for cooking and heating.

One of the ways that this is happening is through the rehabilitation of a county tree nursery at Tongchon, Kangwon Province, which was damaged by flooding. The rehabilitation will take place through a US$ 189,000 contribution from UNDP’s NGO partner, CARITAS and will include rebuilding and repairing damaged nursery buildings, provision of equipment and seeds for tree planting, .

The species planted at the nursery, Japanese Larch, is fast-growing, being ready to harvest in around 20 years. It can also be used as a high quality timber, providing future potential foreign currency earnings for the local authority . In all, the local authority will be able to reforest 9,500 hectares in Kangwon Province.

The project is linked to several others rehabilitating nurseries and eventually facilitating reforestation across the country. UNDP has partnered with the NGO Northeast Asia Forest Forum (NEAFF), who have facilitated other rehabilitation activities in the provincial nursery for the same province, as well as another nursery in Chagang Province.

UNDP hopes to continue this strategy of development, with similar projects planned for the future.