South Korea announces raft of biodiversity actions, gets to work on 5-year plan

Published 08:35 on February 2, 2023  /  Last updated at 08:35 on February 2, 2023  / Stian Reklev /  Biodiversity

South Korea on Thursday announced a number of biodiversity initiatives while confirming that its 5th national biodiversity strategy, covering 2024-28, will be finalised before the end of the year and designed to ensure the nation will meet its commitments under the Global Biodiversity Framework.

South Korea on Thursday announced a number of biodiversity initiatives while confirming that its 5th national biodiversity strategy, covering 2024-28, will be finalised before the end of the year and designed to ensure the nation will meet its commitments under the Global Biodiversity Framework.

“The 5th National Biodiversity Strategy plans to include measures to expand protected areas to 30% of national land by 2030, restore 30% of damaged ecosystems, and drastically reduce the inflow and settlement rate of alien species,” an environment ministry statement said.

Environment Minister Han Hwa-jin said she will be working closely with relevant ministries and other stakeholders to develop a core plan by mid-year and finalise the full five-year strategy by the end of 2023.

But Han also announced a number of decisions to expand protected areas, improve ecosystem health, and strengthen the scientific foundation of the government’s nature policies, on which the ministry will begin work immediately.

Palgongsan provincial park has recently been declared a national park, South Korea’s 23rd, while at least 50 sites will be designated as new protected areas.

Those will include wetlands such as the significant Gamcheon wetlands area, a number of islands, and landscapes around the Geumgang river basin.

Further, the area around the former Janghang copper refinery will be restored to serve as a showcase for national ecological restoration efforts while also playing role of a carbon sink, according to the minister.

Even more, the number of degraded urban ecosystems that will be subject to restoration will increase to 23 spots this year from 16 in 2022, while the government pledged to undertake a survey to better map Korea’s degraded areas.

South Korea also plans to implement a wildlife disease quarantine system on an island near Incheon from next year to help fight avian influenza, swine fever, and other diseases as well as strengthen conservation efforts for its 282 species listed as threatened.

Among other initiatives announced Thursday, South Korea will boost ecotourism by enhancing the ecological value of its natural parks, vitalise its biomaterial-based bioindustry, improve institutional arrangements for carrying out environmental impact assessments, and reinforce the scientific basis for national land management, the minister announced.

While South Korean companies are getting increasingly involved in nature-based carbon offset projects and the voluntary carbon market, there is so far limited interest in the country in adopting the use of a voluntary biodiversity credit market to generate additional nature funding.

“The biodiversity agenda has been emerging in South Korea recently and some Korean businesses and financial institutions are elaborating their efforts to address biodiversity matters,” one Seoul-based carbon trader told Carbon Pulse.

“However, I have never heard that they are looking into the biodiversity credit market. Many of them are still only interested in carbon offset markets.”

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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