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2-min read

Can Forests Lead to Peace? An Idea from South Korea

Minister of the Korea Forest Service (KFS) Kim Jae-Hyun argued that when people view two bordering nations at conflict with each other, they see divided nations -- but the ecosystem is the same.

Aniruddha Ghosal | News18.com@aniruddhg1

Updated:September 11, 2019, 10:48 AM IST
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Can Forests Lead to Peace? An Idea from South Korea
Minister of the Korea Forest Service (KFS) Kim Jae-Hyun
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Could peace, in areas torn by war and home to communities whose lives have been shaped by strife, be achieved through forests? South Korea's Peace Forest Initiative, launched at the 14th Conference of Parties (CoP 14) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on Tuesday, hopes it can.

Minister of the Korea Forest Service (KFS) Kim Jae-Hyun argued that when people view two bordering nations at conflict with each other, they see divided nations -- but the ecosystem is the same. "It is not true that they are divided. The local communities living in these areas can bring about tangible change by restoring the ecosystems," he said.

Changes in climate pattern can dramatically amplify the security risks faced by human society and the Global Risks Report 2019, by the World Economic Forum had cited climate change among the most pressing concerns. In the context of south Asia, for instance, a crisis over water -- made worse by anthropogenic climate change -- is widely believed to be a potential trigger for future conflicts.

The initiative has been specifically designed to provide a practical platform for fostering international collaboration in this context through the demonstration of collaboration cross-border post-conflict situations by demonstrating the value of achieving land degradation neutrality (achieving stability or increase in terms of the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions, services and food security). The initiative envisages cooperative efforts on actions such as sustainable land management, land rehabilitation and can facilitate economic cooperation. The Peace Forest Initiative could ultimately contribute to the alleviation of political tension, reconciliation and can become a part of permanent peace building processes, the UNCCD said.

Although the Korean Forest Minister said that he hadn't spoken to the Indian government about the initiative, he expressed hope that other countries would also collaborate. He said, "We are just coming from the launch of the Peace Forest Initiative, but it isn't just limited to Koea. But all the people can collaborate in it." He added that the government of the Republic of Korea would also be aiding in the funding of the project.

The scheme, he said, was built on several key factors. "Building trust and peace through collaboration", "restoring ecosystems through the local communities", "creating jobs" and enhancing security. On being asked about the Indian context, where often local communities don't have limited access to border areas he said, "It will be immportant to set up a peace zone."

"In terms of the area where the initiative can be applicable, it is entirely dependent on the country's definition," he said, while citing the transboundary reserve created between Peru and Ecuador as a 'Forest of Peace. In 2016, the 'Forest of Peace', spanning 1.6 million hectares that included mangroves and dry forests and housed 600,000 people were createde by integrating two existing biosphere reserves: Noroeste Amotapes-Manglares in Peru and Bosque Seco in Ecuador.

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