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Democratic People's Republic of Korea - Country Profile

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPR Korea) is located in the eastern part of the Asian continent, occupying the northern portion of the Korean peninsula, bordered by the Korean East Sea and the Korean West Sea on the eastern and western coasts, respectively. Mountainous areas cover almost 80% of the country’s territory, thus resulting in topography characterized by deep valleys and steep slopes. DPR Korea’s temperate forests cover about 73% of the territory, making the forest ecosystem the most important in terms of species abundance and relative to other ecosystems. Also characteristic of the country are river and water areas constituting a ramified network that covers 6% of the country. The country’s coastline is 3,070 km long (in addition to occupying the northern portion of the peninsula, the country also possesses 340 islands and islets). These physiographical conditions have provided various habitats for fauna and flora, and provide explanation for the country’s rich diversity and comparatively high density of species among northeast Asian countries.

The country’s natural resources serve several functions, thereby providing several ecosystem services. For example, plant communities around the rivers provide watershed protection, land protection, among other services. The wetlands of the Korean West Sea are located in the East Asia-Australia flyway, one of the 8 global flyways of migratory birds, where about 180 species of migratory birds have been recorded, including 26 rare species. Additionally, DPR Korea’s mountain ecosystem includes distinct landscapes that serve as a valuable tourism resource.

Regarding plant and animal biodiversity, a high rate of plant endemism is observed. At the end of 2006, the number of plant species recorded in the country was 10,012. The number of animals recorded in the country is 9,795 species. Many plants and animals in DPR Korea have high economic values, including high timber value tree species, medicinal plants, wild edible fruits, greens, mushrooms, oil plants and aromatic plants. According to data surveyed so far, there are also 60 alien plant species already rooted in the territory.

Since the publication of the first NBSAP in 1998, DPR Korea continues to be confronted with challenges, such as a decrease in forest resources, environmental deterioration and the unsustainable use of natural resources resulting from adverse economic conditions. Threatened animal species in DPR Korea now comprise approximately 21% of vertebrate species.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The three main factors of threats to biodiversity are the overuse of natural resources, soil erosion and the loss of water and habitat. Invasive alien species and environmental pollution also impact biodiversity to a certain extent. The overuse of natural resources is closely related to population increase. Population density in DPR Korea is 180/km2, even higher than in China (131/km2). This population increase causes overuse and deterioration of forest resources and the ecological services they provide, primarily due to the need for firewood. In particular, denuded sloping land increases the loss of soil and water, subsequently exerting great pressure on the water ecosystem. The destruction of forest ecosystems also causes wildlife habitat fragmentation and consequently the rapid disappearance of large animals (e.g. Ursus aritos, U. tibetanus) and threatened mammals (e.g. otter (Lutura lutura)).

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

DPR Korea updated its NBSAP in 2012, with the aim of assessing progress made in the past decade and adapting to the requirements for sustainable development in the new millennium. NBSAP implementation in the country is closely linked with implementation of the Master Plan for Development (MPLD) and national plans for sectors such as forestry, fisheries, Koryo medicine manufacturing, agriculture, as well to scientific research and energy development. The revised NBSAP contains 10 strategic goals and 23 actions (several of which will be implemented through projects). An action plan is currently being developed to mainstream biodiversity and environment in the education sector. The immediate objectives of the Strategy include: (i) restoring degraded ecosystems, halting the deterioration of the ecological environment, reducing the rate of loss of biodiversity components and improving the whole ecological environment; (ii) improving the management of nature reserves for raising the effectiveness of the system; (iii) increasing bio-productivity and service function of ecosystems and establishing the system for the sustainable use of bio-resources, thus enabling people to gain both environmental and socioeconomic benefits via biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Public education and awareness-raising acitivities on biodiversity-related issues are actively conducted through mass media (e.g. television, radio), festivals and celebrations. Books, journals and pamphlets on biodiversity conservation have also been published and widely disseminated to the public. Universities and educational institutions have also increased the number of lectures on biodiversity and environmental protection, including lectures on world trends and the status and direction of research and development.

Numerous actions in in situ and ex situ conservation have been developed and implemented. Most in situ conservation is completed within protected areas, which have been expanded to 7.2% of the country’s territory. For example, the project on “Crane Restoration at Anbyon and Construction of a Community-based Protected Area” has been successfully implemented, integrating agriculture and sustainable development within local biodiversity conservation and community-based reserve management through habitat restoration of the red-crowned crane. Ex situ conservation is being implemented by the Central Zoo and the Central Botanical Garden. Research and experimental work on the breeding of Korean endemic species, as well as research to return endangered species to their natural environments, have been carried out at the Central Botanical Garden. Similar activities on the captive breeding of endangered species have been carried out at the Central Zoo for the Korean tiger and bear.

Efforts to promote forest biodiversity conservation include a government policy for afforestation and gardening of the whole country to increase forested area and improve forest structure and ecological function. The Central Nursery has also increased its area and seedling production capacity by 400,000 seedlings since 2006. The creation of firewood forests (total area of 800,000 ha) for solving the issue of firewood shortage (which is the main cause of forest deterioration and soil degradation) is also being promoted by the Ministry of Land and Environment Protection. Regarding forestry for lumber production, active reforestation has been promoted in deforested areas, in compliance with the principle of cyclic felling. Furthermore, the Ten-Year Plan for Afforestation includes the improvement of watershed management and promotes agro-forestry in slope land areas (a considerable amount of work has been carried out in regard to slope land management since 2003). EU aid was also provided for the 2007-2009 project on “food security in slope land areas and improvement of people’s livelihood”.

Modern aquaculture practices are being conducted and fish farms have been built in the east and west coastal areas. The framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources is being reinforced. The Ministry of Fisheries and the Bureau of Pisciculture are actively engaged in expanding inland water fish farming and developing coastal cultivation, including seaweed cultivation. Organic farming and conservation agriculture have also been promoted for farms in order to enhance soil fertility and ensure food security. This includes organic farming by mud snail, promotion of good varieties of crops, bean farming, production of bio-fertilizers and enforcement of plant quarantines.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Law on Environmental Protection is the main law for environmental protection in DPR Korea. Other important laws relevant to the conservation of environment and biodiversity include, among others, the Laws on Land, Construction, Water Resources, Forest, Public Hygiene, Biosafety, and Environmental Impact Assessment. Although there are laws and regulations closely related to biodiversity conservation, DPR Korea has no laws on the conservation of wild plant and threatened species, or on comprehensive biodiversity conservation, which presents challenges.

NBSAP implementation in the country is closely linked with implementation of the Master Plan for Development (MPLD) and national plans for sectors such as forestry, fisheries, Koryo medicine manufacturing, agriculture, as well to scientific research and energy development.

International funding for projects has been provided by the GEF and the EU. In addition, the FAO has financed projects on issues such as coastal biodiversity, agriculture in plains, and slope land management. Cooperation with various organizations has taken place in regard to agriculture-related projects.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

DPR Korea attaches great attention to biodiversity conservation however biodiversity monitoring lags far behind conservation needs. The establishment of a national biodiversity monitoring system shall be accelerated and long-term biodiversity monitoring shall be carried out. Notably, the update of the NBSAP was carried out by the State Academy of Sciences (SAOS).

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  • United Nations Environment Programme