From demilitarized zone to peace park

02 April 2008 | Project description

Using conservation and environment to create a “peace park” to support international efforts to resolve the entrenched geopolitical situation between the two Koreas, while protecting the environment.

IUCN’s Regional Protected Areas Programme has been making an important contribution to the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.  IUCN has been actively promoting environmental actions as a significant part of international efforts to resolve the entrenched geopolitical situation between the two Koreas.  Two transboundary initiatives were successfully included in the programme of Summit talks between the leaders of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) in 2007: a project focused on a Peace Park between Mt Kumgang and Seoraksan National Parks across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and a project to undertake resource assessment in the DMZ as a step toward creating a broader transboundary park.  Both of these initiatives were developed through a Memorandum of Understanding between IUCN and the Korean Ministry of Environment which has also provided a seconded officer to work with IUCN Asia Regional Protected Areas Programme.  The benefit of this partnership between IUCN and ROK, as a new IUCN State Member, has been enormous.  It has allowed IUCN staff and networks to work more directly with Korean counterparts and for Korea to understand the possibilities of IUCN support to these important regional and global initiatives.

A high level agreement was agreed at the 2007 Regional Conservation Forum, held in Kathmandu, Nepal, to develop an IUCN technical programme in Korea. The idea is to encourage a stronger membership base in Korea, and to support a range of other issues such as, oil spill management, marine and environmental education initiatives.  IUCN is also negotiating a range of specific technical support to DPRK on protected areas and species protection.  The Nature Conservation Union of Korea in DPRK, one of IUCN’s oldest members, is seeking support on improved management of DPRK’s protected area system through use of contemporary best practice in protected area design, planning and management.  They are also interested in working at enhanced cooperation on Red List processes for DPRK.