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River restoration project help protect forest, enhance local economy

In the past, Korean territory has been severely damaged by historical tragedies like the Japanese colonization period (1910-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953). In the 1960 and 1970s, the Korean government focused on planting more trees on bare mountains and improving water management to improve the natural environment of the country.

Such national effort has paid off and Korea made a successful transformation. Now, forests account for more than 60 percent of the whole country.

Thanks to the endless effort and care of the country for planting and cultivating the trees, people can now fully enjoy the benefits of the forest, which has become a precious resource of the country.

In regard to water management, the Korean government announced in June 2009 the Rivers Restoration Project aimed at developing water resources by securing a sufficient water supply, preventing floods, upgrading water quality, and reviving ecosystems, as well as boosting regional economies.

People go bike-riding on the riverside road in Hwacheon, Gangwon Province (Photo from the Weekly Gonggam Magazine published by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism).

Earlier this year, the Korea Forest Service selected nearly 40 areas with nice views near the four major rivers – the Han, Geum, Nakdong, and Yeongsan Rivers -- to create a special forest dubbed the “Forest of Hope.” These areas offer people a chance to contribute to decorating the rivers of their towns as anyone can plant their own trees in the areas.

The government will designate the selected riverside areas as eco-friendly zones by creating wetlands. Along with the forest areas, it also plans to create bike roads near the rivers so that people can spend time doing leisure activities and walking around the environmentally friendly zones. By doing so, the government will contribute to saving the earth and better respond to climate change.

* River restoration project helps improve local economy

As the completion of the Four River Restoration project approaches, experts predict that the project will have a tremendous effect on the local economy. They expect the project will revitalize the local economy by enhancing the tourism and leisure industries, creating more jobs, and increasing household income.

The project was initially designed to boost tourism and leisure sectors. In this regard, the 16 reservoirs scheduled to open later this year are built with not only water management facilities but also with various cultural and sports facilities like riverside parks, bike roads, eco-tourism areas, and campsites.

The government will develop tourism packages, host festivals, and build leisure complexes, water sports, and accommodation facilities along the four rivers.

The river restoration project will also generate more jobs. The government initially planned to create 340,000 jobs by implementing the project two years ago. According to the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, the project has already created almost 88 percent of the predicted number of jobs. The project’s indirect effect on job creation exceeds expectations if it includes the number of newly created jobs in logistics and supply of construction equipment involved in the project.

By Yoon Sojung Staff Writer


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