By Catherine GERMIER-HAMEL, Founder & CEO of Millennium Destinations
As Korea is getting ready to host the XV World Forestry Congress in Seoul next year, I was invited to attend the 2nd Forest Interpretation Contest as jury.
When I relocated to Korea 15 years ago, I quickly realized how the country and its people were intrinsically connected to nature. Indeed, 75% of the country is covered by mountains, and even in the huge capital city of Seoul, they are an ubiquitous part of the landscape. Moreover, Korea has been praised for its succesful nationwide regreening and reforestation after decades of timber exploitation and intensive use of firewood. In 1946, after being freed from the Japanese colonial rule, the first Arbor Day was proclaimed and it soon became synonyous with tree-planting. Since then, many successful efforts have been carried out to reforest Korea and make it green again.
On Aug. 28, 2020, the Korea Forest Service, an independent agency overseen by the Korean Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Forest Interpreters Association of Korea co-hosted the 2nd Forest Interpretation Contest. They event took place at aT Center, close to Yangjae Citizen's Forest in the South of Seoul.
The yearly competition was launched in order to make forest Interpretation accessible to English-speaking foreigners and facilitate the dissemination of the Korean experience in reforestation overseas. It is open to professional forest education professionals as well as any ordinary people, whether they are Koreans or foreigners.
Nine candidates have been selected to present their works and were assessed by a panel of four judges, based on criteria such as the relevance, accuracy and interest of the contents. The program also included a lecture. The four winners will be invited to participate in the XV World Forestry Congress in May next year, and will have an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities by guiding foreign delegates during field trips organized during the Congress.
The programme also included a special lecture on the internationally acclaimed Korean model of reforestation.
In his speech, Dr. KO Kiyeon, Director of International Cooperation of the Forest Service, in charge of the organization of the World Forestry Congress General Assembly, invited talented people having an interest in forests and fluent in foreign languages to pay attention to this contest held every year.
As the world's largest gathering of the global forestry community, the World Forestry Congress (WFC) is held every six years. It is organized by a selected host country with the support and co-sponsorship of the Food and Agriculture Organization. The Congress welcomes thousands of delegates and serves as a forum for governments, universities, civil society and the private sector to exchange views and experiences and to formulate recommendations for implementation at national, regional and global levels.
The next WFC will be held in South Korea from 24 to 28 May 2021, to emphasize the role of forests in the context of the Global Forest Goals, Paris Agreement, Post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the 2030 Agenda, identifying key measures and enriching the prospective future of forests as the forest sector adjusts to the post-COVID-19 developments.