North and South Korea on Wednesday agreed to take joint action on forest disease and pest control on the inter-Korean border and to push forward with cooperation projects on forest composition and protection.
The joint press statement follows a day of working-level talks between the two Koreas on forestry cooperation, which began at 1000 local time at the Peace House on the southern part of the truce village of Panmunjom.
“The South and the North agreed to hold discussions on forest creation and protection and to carry out cooperation projects,” the statement read.
The projects include modernization of tree nurseries, agroforestry, joint action on forest fire prevention, and erosion control work.
Seoul and Pyongyang also agreed to mutually cooperate in controlling forest disease and pests, according to the statement.
To this end, the two Koreas will take joint action “at the inter-Korean border region and areas that need pest control work.”
The South Korean side will also take measures to control forest disease and insect pests following an on-site visit to the area later in the month.
Wednesday saw Seoul and Pyongyang agree to “cooperate in the field of forestry science and technology, including exchanges of scientific and technological achievements in forest creation and protection.”
Seoul and Pyongyang dispatched three-member delegations to the talks.
South Korean Deputy Minister for Korea Forest Service (KFS) Ryu Kwang-su and vice director-general of the General Bureau of Forest under the Ministry of Land and Environment Protection Kim Song Jun served as chief delegates.
Senior official from the DPRK National Economic Cooperation Committee Ryang Ki Gon also participated in the meeting.
May saw the South Korean presidential office announce Seoul would push ahead with forestry cooperation following the first meeting of the ROK’s committee for promoting the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration.
The committee is composed of three sectoral committees for the development of inter-Korean relations, denuclearization and the peace regime, and communication and public relations.
Presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-keum in May said a task force for research on forest cooperation would be established under the subcommittee for the development of inter-Korean relations.
“We plan to kick off activities as a priority as the forest cooperation is a field which the North needs the most and we have a lot of experience,” Kim said in May.
The Moon administration has reportedly prioritized the project with the view that cooperation would not violate international sanctions against the DPRK.
In March, the South Korean government-run Korea Forest Service agreed to push forward a project analyzing deforestation and broader environmental trends in the DPRK – the first of its kind in ten years.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has also publicly expressed support for reforestation projects, in 2015 calling on “the Entire Party, the Whole Army and All the People Conduct a Vigorous Forest Restoration Campaign to Cover the Mountains of the Country with Green Woods.”
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported in February that the DPRK army and people “have achieved successes in the three-year forest restoration campaign.”
Kim also called for reforestation efforts in his 2018 new year’s speech.
The two Koreas agreed to decide the dates and venues for sectoral talks, including on forestry cooperation, as a result of a high-level meeting on June 1.
North and South Korean officials also held separate talks on railway and road cooperation last week.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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