April 5th marks Arbor Day or Sikmogil here in Korea. Although the day stopped being a public holiday in 2005, various groups in government offices, schools, and workplaces are still carrying on with the tradition of tree-planting every year.
(std-up ed: steve)
More than 100 people have gathered here to plant around 5000 pine trees for Arbor Day. Although this practice can still be seen today in South Korea, with each year that passes, this sight is becoming increasingly harder to come by.
Over the past decade, the number of trees planted in Gyeonggi-do Province decreased by around 20 percent to 2.5 million trees last year while the area decreased by around 16 percent.
However, experts say the decrease isn't necessarily a negative sign.
"Korea is considered a pretty successful case of reforestation. It's just less common to plant trees than before because we have less land to fill up."
What's also changed over the years is the types of trees planted. The most popular choice for reforestation purposes has been the pine tree, but that has changed due to various reasons such as the spread of pest that thrives off pinewood. Instead, another type of evergreen tree, the nakyeopsong tree and broad-leaved trees such as tulip trees are planted more often these days.
The Korea Forest Service has said that in the few months before and after Arbor Day, they plan to plant around 54-million trees over 22-thousand hectares of land across the nation.
An official from the organization said that ultimately by 2022, the agency aims to expand the proportion of nature per square meter in major cities, from around 10 square meters as it is now,… to around 12 square meters, in order to minimize the negative impact of fine dust pollution.
Lee Jeong-yeon, Arirang News, Wonju.