Korea, SE Asia, Austria cooperate on forest preservation

The Korea Forest Service (KFS) has held a round of talks with Indonesia, Laos and Austria on forestry cooperation. 

The KFS hosted a tree planting event at a forest biomass pilot project in Semarang, central Java, in Indonesia, in celebration of the Southeast Asian nation’s sixth Arbor Day on November 28. Biomass is biological material derived from living or recently living organisms. Since the Indonesian government designated November 28 as Arbor Day in 2008, it has held a campaign every year to plant 1 billion trees. 

The Korea-Indonesia Forest Center, a green corporation, residents of Semarang and Perum Perhutani, a state-owned forest management company from Java, took part in the event and together planted many fast-growing gliricidia trees. 

The forest biomass pilot project in Semarang is designed to produce wood pellets for fuel to help with climate change. Pellet fuels are heating fuels made from compressed biomass. Wood pellets are the most common type. 

Gliricidia, the main type of tree species to be planted for the project, can be used to produce wood pellets in only two years. Korea and Indonesia intend to plant 3.2 million trees in an area covering 500 hectares this year and to plant 2,000 hectares more over the next three years. 

“Ever since the Renewable Portfolio Standards, a regulation that requires the increased production of energy from renewable energy sources, took off in February 2012, demand for wood pellets will grow from the current 250,000 tons to 1.1 million tons in 2017,” said Nam Sung-hyun, head of the Korea-Indonesia Forest Center at the event. “I hope this project will be able to provide a sufficient amount of wood pellets.” 

Korea, Laos sign MOU to cooperate on forest service 

The KFS also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in the Southeast Asian nation’s capital Vientiane with the Laotian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to cooperate on forestry projects. The MOU covers ways to efficiently manage forests in rural villages and to plant crops in a way to raise income. 

“With the signing of this MOU between Korea and Laos, we will not only cooperate on managing forests in rural villages but also find ways to work together in farming and forestry to create jobs and to improve the lives of the residents,” said Kim Yong-ha, director general of the international affairs bureau of the KFS. 

On November 29, Kim also met Laotian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Vilayvanh Phomkhe and talked about bilateral cooperation on forestry projects, including the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCo) landmark project to restore damaged forests and to prevent desertification. 

Korea, Austria take first steps to cooperate on forestry 

The inaugural Korea-Austria forestry cooperation meeting took place in Vienna, Austria, on November 26. This first meeting was the result of an MOU signed between the two nations in October 2012 to cooperate on forestry projects. The two nations discussed the exchange of forest management technology and human resources. They also plan to jointly research alpine plant species and how to preserve their seeds, as well as predict and prevent mountain disasters and, finally, how to train forestry workers. 

“Austria has well-developed forestry technologies and the features of its mountain ranges are similar to those in Korea,” said Ryu Kwang-su, director general of the international affairs bureau at the KFS. “This will be an opportunity to share forestry management skills by cooperating with Austria.” 

Both sides plan to fully implement the agendas agreed upon between the two nations and to review the agreements and their implementation at the second Korea-Austria forestry cooperation meeting slated for 2015 in Austria. 

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