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article imageSouth Korean forest bulldozed to create ski run for Olympics

By Kesavan Unnikrishnan     Sep 20, 2015 in Environment
South Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Games, has been accused of bulldozing a 500-year-old virgin forest to make room for an Olympic ski slope.
The site is on the sacred Mount Gariwang, a mountain with connections to the Chosun Ruling Dynasty, the country’s last royal dynasty which lasted more than 500 years till 1897. The forest is also home to four dangerously threatened animal species like Eurasian otter, the leopard cat, the marten and the flying squirrel. It is also home to rare species of plants and trees, including the native Wangsasre trees and the oldest Oak in South Korea.
The forest was listed as a Protected Area for Forest Genetic Resource Conservation by the South Korean government, but this was lifted in 2013.
However, Games officials claim Mount Gariwang was the only site that met all International Ski Federation regulations. The Pyeongchang Olympic Organizing Committee also said that the damage done to the forest was limited by avoiding major vegetation habitats and promised to replace more than 1,200 trees after the 2018 Olympic Games are finished to restore the forest.
Environmental activists claim an existing ski site nearby at Yongpyong could have been used for skiing events.
Youn Yeo-chang, professor of ecological economics and forestry policy at Seoul National University, told the Guardian.
The area earmarked for the Olympics falls under a special category – a forest genetic resources preservation area – stipulated in South Korea’s forest protection act. The area comprises not only trees, but plants and small animals and other organisms, and the possibility that trees can be replanted there is not very high due to disturbance to soil systems.
More about South Korea, Forest, Olympics, Destroyed
 
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