Title [] [Green Korea] National Arbor Day keeps alive tradition of planting trees
Date 2010-04-19 AM 10:49:21 Hit 4126

This year marks the 65th National Arbor Day in Korea, which falls on April 5th. Known in Korean as “singmogil” (literally “tree-planting day”(, a nationwide tree planting campaign takes place every year at government offices, villages, army bases, workplaces and schools.

Korea, having been a thoroughly agricultural society for most of its history, has always considered April a good time for planting. It also happens to be the day King Seongjong (1457-1494) of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) demonstrated tilling the land at Seonnongdan, the Altar of Agriculture, for the royal family in 1343. The fervor for tree planting grew after the country went through the trials of Japanese colonial times (1910-1945) and the Korean War (1950-53) left the country’s hills and mountains almost bare, either cut down for fuel or construction resources or simply burnt down.

In the 21st century, National Arbor Day has become something more than just re-foresting mountains and hills. With climate change, the greenhouse effect and other environmental hazards around the globe, it has become imperative to increase the number of trees that not only help to ease flooding and other kinds of natural disasters, but also to capture carbon dioxide and emit clean air. Bear in mind, low carbon green growth is one of the key government policies these days.

What is your birth tree?

Korea Forest Service website: Find your tree
Check out which tree symbolizes your birthday or any other special day you would like to commemorate at the website of Korea Forest Service. For example the birth tree of Korea's most celebrated figure skater Kim Yu-na (born Sept. 5, 1990) who won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, is a mountain ash. Mountain ash is known for its looks and medicinal properties that can be widely used for all kinds of ailments.

A total of 48 trees that boast outstanding qualities are introduced on this website, arranged according to when they blossom, growth period and when they bear fruit. They are trees that need to be planted more than others, as explained by the Forest Service. The site also offers old legends on the trees and the specific usages of their wood and fruit. Unfortunately the website is in the Korean language only, so those who aren’t familiar with the language are advised to get assistance from Korean acquaintances or at least confirm the name of the tree which is be shown in English.

Meanwhile, the Forest Service has already distributed a total of 15,000 tree seedlings at Marronier Park in Daehangno, Seoul on Mar. 26. Following this initial campaign the Service plans to distribute a total of 1.5 million seedlings in around 160 regions nationwide during the week of Arbor Day; that’s about three to five of seedlings per person. A big tree planting function will take place jointly at 147 spots that cover 295 hectares in total. The Service will also run a tree market at 130 spots around the nation that offers good seedlings at reasonable prices. “It’s an occasion to receive and plant free trees,” said a spokesperson. “Those interested can visit the website (Korea Forest Service) to check out schedules and locations.” For more questions call Korea Forest Service at 042-481-8850 (Korean language only).

More pine trees for Joseon royal tombs

Jangneung Royal Tomb
Joseon’s royal tombs have long been encircled by beautiful forests, containing pine trees and broadleaf trees like oak. The Cultural Heritage Administration has been planting pine trees regularly every year as a way to fight against the decreasing number of traditional forests caused by climate change and other natural disasters.

This year the Administration will plant over 7,000 seedlings of pine trees around all the royal tombs on Sunday (Apr. 4) at 10 a.m. Citizen volunteers will plan the seedlings that come from the tree nursery of the royal tomb of Sareung, which once belonged to Queen Jeongsun (1440-1521) of the Joseon Dynasty. The event is to remind people of the importance of both the forest and cultural heritage. Those interested in planting can either call the management office of any of the royal tombs from Mar. 29 to Apr. 4. (The royal tomb office is eager to receive applications to plant trees, even on the same day.) For more information call: 042-481-4706~8 (Korean language only).

Free entrance to Korean National Arboretum

Photo: Korea National Arboretum
The Korea National Arboretum in Gyeonggi-do (Gyeonggi Province) will open its Gwangneung Forest region free to the 3,000 visitors who made reservations from Mar. 31 to Apr. 3. Those who wish to enjoy the greenery during the weekend can either visit the website (related contents availiable only in Korean page) or call 031-540-2000 (automatic call-answering and menu system).

The Arboretum will hold a campaign to collect one million signatures supporting cautionary measures against forest fires. As the park contains many tombs including that of King Sejo, the seventh ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, the Arboretum will place special patrols on main mountain paths to provide guidance to hikers during the day and check for possible campfires during the night.

The Arboretum, which is over 11 million square meters in size, is made up of natural forest on about 10 million square meters and nearly 990,000 square meters of planted trees have long been treasured for their rich forest habitat. There are a total of 1,863 types of wood plants, 1,481 herbal plants displayed in 15 specialized botanical gardens, forest museum, forest zoo, herbarium and seed bank.

More free seedlings

The Ulsan Forest of Life will give away some 3,200 free seedlings for free at the plaza at Dongcheon Gymnasium in Jung-gu district on Saturday (Apr. 3) starting from 11 a.m. Each person will receive two seedlings on a first come, first served basis. They will be seedlings of larch, nut pine, lily tree, chinaberry tree, yew tree, maple tree, apricot tree, lilac, metasequoia, fringe tree and more.

For more information, visit the homepage (Korean language only), call 052-277-8280 or email at usforest@hanmail.net (Korean language only). For free interpreting for any of the phone numbers listed here, call 1330 (English, Chinese and Japanese).

By Kim Hee-sung
Korea.net Staff Writer

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