In case you haven’t heard about the reforestation efforts in Pyongyang:
“Rather than going to South America to substitute carbon emissions, if we plant trees in North Korea and make it lush with forests, it will be helpful not only to North Korea but would also be helpful to our companies,” Lee said.
Q. What is the state of the environment in North Korea, and what are the current efforts to address the issues?
It’s hard to know exactly. One of the most obvious problems, though, is the massive deforestation that happened during the height of the ongoing famine, back in the 1990s. Pretty much everything was cut down for firewood or food — people resorted to eating bark. It’s a depressing landscape, especially this time of year. Everything is just mud and everything is being farmed, or attempted to be farmed. But their ability to produce food is being dramatically compromised by a cascade of effects caused by deforestation.
There’s massive soil erosion, and the organic and mineral content of the soil has been dramatically reduced, as has the water-holding capacity of the soil, leading to drought conditions. Consequently there is a national reforestation program that mandates that every citizen spend one month every year planting trees. But that is pretty much the extent of the sophistication of restoration efforts — just trying to get trees in the ground.
So while everyone’s focused on NK’s premature missile performance, I think more earnest efforts are needed to help North Korea out with these issues. It’s a chance to actually have dialogue, and engage them in something meaningful. Then of course, they did fire off missiles despite UN sanctions… Sigh.