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Korea for using forestry to ‘grow’ peace on borders

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South Korea on Tuesday proposed a global initiative to use ecological restoration as a peace-building process. This can address the issue of land degradation in conflict-torn border areas and go a long way in alleviating tensions and building trust between communities living there and between enemy countries in particular.

Formally launching the Peace Forest Initiative at the on-going 14th Conference of Parties of the United National Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) here, Kim Jae-Hyun, Korea’s Forest Minister, said: “We are proposing it as a global initiative where actually all people living in border areas in many countries can participate. We want to implement it in collaboration with UNCCD.”

Kim said the initiative is in early stages and may first be implemented in border areas between Peru and Ecuador, which have shown interest. He hoped that together with UNCCD and other international agencies, they would be able to launch the Peace Forest Initiative in a number of conflict-torn international borders in Asia, Africa and South America.

Kim said the initiative can provide a practical platform to foster international collaboration by achieving land degradation neutrality in cross-border post-conflict situations. Cooperative efforts on actions such as sustainable land management, forestry and land rehabilitation can facilitate economic cooperation, while supporting the achievement of multiple sustainable development goals (SDG) targets.

It can ultimately contribute to the alleviation of political tensions, reconciliation, and become a part of permanent peace building processes. He said COP14 would provide an opportunity for like-minded stakeholders to discuss the initiative as a way to deliver common global goals.