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Republic of Korea - Main Details

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


The ecosystems in Korea include forests, mountains, freshwater ecosystems, coastal and marine areas and agricultural ecosystems. The forests in Korea are mainly coniferous, deciduous and mixed forests. A total of 29,916 species are reported including: 18,117animals; 8,271 plants; 1,625 fungi; 736 protista and 1,167 prokaryotes. There are also 16,589 invertebrates. In addition, 4,662 higher plants and 3,609 lower plants are found in the country. Biodiversity in Korea is declining due to its economic development. There is a total of 221 threatened species, including 22 mammals, 61 birds, 18 fishes and so on. Some species are considered to be extinct, such as the tiger and Siberian leopard, fox, wolf and sitka deer. The loss of endemic species of agronomy crops, such as dwarf wheat, is also high. The main threats to biodiversity include overexploitation of land and biological resources, as well as environmental pollution.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

There are 1,119 protected areas of 14 types in the country. There are 20 national parks and 16 wetland-protected areas. In addition, there are two Biosphere Reserves and 5 Ramsar sites. The total area covered by protected areas is 1,562,144ha, but some protected areas are over designated.

Percentage of Forest Cover

The total forest area covers 6,394,000ha, accounting for 64% of the total land area of the country.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Korea’s National Biodiversity Strategy (NBS) contains strategies for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and capacity building. The strategy for biodiversity conservation includes monitoring and identification of biodiversity components; in-situ and ex-situ conservation; control of threatening activities; and ecosystem rehabilitation. The strategy for sustainable use covers a number of sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, genetic resources and tourism. The strategy for capacity building includes: improvement of management capacities, incentive measures, research and education, exchange of information, and international cooperation.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

Korea intends to increase by 5% its conservation areas (in comparison to the year 2004). The country is establishing a national ecosystem network by increasing the number of natural parks, ecosystem preservation areas, natural monument areas, wild life conservation areas, wetland protected areas, and marine conservation areas. Korea has also designated for protection those areas indigenous to the country. Furthermore, Korea is establishing a graded system for management and conservation of farmland and forests and a taxonomic system for inland water ecosystems. Korea will complete eco-mapping at various levels. To conserve genetic diversity, Korea is collecting and propagating the seeds of native species, and implementing a number of projects aiming to restore some species, particularly threatened ones. To this end, the Comprehensive Plan for Propagation and Restoration of Endangered Species was developed in 2006, which aimed to propagate and/or restore 54 of 221 endangered species by 2015. The country has established gene banks of genetic resources of animals, plants and microorganisms. It has also established systems of certification of those organic agricultural and marine products and classifying forest plant species, including their name, functions, distribution and habitats. Moreover, Korea is applying the ecosystem approach for sustainable forest management. To avoid unsustainable use, Korea has banned manufacturing products that are derived from threatened genetic resources. Moreover, Korea is restricting the export of native species of plants and animals. The country quarantines agricultural, timber and other products and ballast water to prevent the introduction of alien species. Korea is monitoring the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. Environmentally friendly farming practices are encouraged to reduce pollution on biodiversity. Also, Korea protects traditional knowledge as cultural assets, and through intellectual rights protection regimes. In addition, Korea is using various mechanisms, such as capacity building, technology transfer, royalty payment, in-kind contributions and collaborative research, to share benefits with those countries providing genetic resources.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

A number of research activities are being implemented, such as those on sustainable use, natural habitats, endangered species distribution and ecological map grading. A number of ecological conservation areas have been designated and expanded, including ecosystem preservation zones, wetland protected areas, natural conservation reserves, natural parks and some islands. In addition, some sound management plans have been established and research, data analysis and information sharing systems have been set up for protected areas. The stakeholders’ involvement in protected areas management is being practiced. Moreover, the National Trust Act on Cultural Heritage and Natural Environment Assets was enacted in March 2006, which aimed to promote the voluntary participation of people in conserving cultural and natural heritage resources. Tax relief and economic instruments are contained in the Act.

Initiatives in Access and Benefit Sharing

A few existing laws contain provisions relating to the sharing of benefits derived from the use of genetic resources, such as rural development laws, basic laws on agriculture and rural areas, and pasture and livestock laws. There is an ongoing process to establish a new law on the conservation, management and utilization of agricultural genetic resources, which is for governing access and benefit sharing. This law stipulates the "continued access to and use of genetic resources in a sustainable manner with fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of such genetic resources".

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

Korea’s law on agriculture and rural areas contains provisions that protect traditional knowledge and encourage the participation of local communities in policy making related to traditional knowledge. This law also promotes the active participation of female farmers.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme