In what was probably the best orchestrated and publicly cohesive reforestation event in world history, the people of South Korea came together in the 1970s and 1980s and reforested their country after it had been denuded during thirty-five years of Japanese colonization and the subsequent Korean War. Reforestation was needed at the time primarily for developing a domestic timber supply to support its largely rural and agrarian economy. But South Korea has changed. It is now one of the world's most densely populated countries with a rapidly increasing industrial economy, and more than half its population is urban. It is no longer clear that providing a domestic timber supply is either desirable or feasible. In this article, we argue that providing recreational opportunities, especially for urbanites, and ecological restoration for biodiversity conservation are now the best strategic uses of Korea's forests.
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