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Expansion in urban forestation is vital for Korea, with a worrying 91% of the Korean population living in urban areas with insufficient greenery. For every person in Korea, there are 8.32 square meters of green land, which falls short of the 9 square meters per person standard set by the World Health Organization.

With revelations of various health and environmental benefits produced by urban forests, more citizens and companies have been actively participating in the nation’s urban forestation movement.

In the latest development, the National Assembly has passed a bill on the creation and management of urban forests, which will give momentum to the Urban Forest Development project overseen by the Korea Forest Service (KFS). Until now, the KFS and local governments have created and managed urban forests based on the Forest Resources Act. The new bill will strengthen the responsibilities of state and local governments. Heads of local governments will be required to make efforts to maintain and increase urban forest areas, while the state will be required to provide administrative and financial support.

Additionally, a legal basis has been laid to promote private participation. In order to reduce the financial burden on various levels of government, individuals, business and organisations will be encouraged to donate trees and land for the creation and management of urban forests.

Lee Yong-seok, Director of Urban Forest and Landscape at KFS, said, “The public is paying more attention to urban forests’ effectiveness on improving air quality due to fine dust.”