A space for healing: overcoming environmental diseases in national parks

To help prevent and manage environmental diseases, Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea and Korea National Park Service established Health Improvement Camps in 2009. Every year, the camps, situated in various national parks in the Republic of Korea, welcome families and treat children suffering from environmental diseases, such as skin inflammation, eczema, seasonal allergies and asthma, for free.  

Building understanding about environmental diseases

Health Improvement Camps are collaborative initiatives between national park offices and medical centers. Programmes such as nature trail walks and making snacks and moisturizers from natural ingredients are managed by national park offices while health clinics are run by medical centers.

The camps give people the opportunity to understand environmental diseases better and to meet with other friends with similar symptoms. This can help tackle associated health challenges such as stress and depression. Children and their parents can learn how to manage their lifestyles, including improving their diets, in a bid to treat their conditions. The camp also gives priority to vulnerable social groups.

Fourteen children who participated in the camp more than four times reported that they had fewer symptoms. 

In 2019, the camp will operate between April and October at 12 national parks across the country. Children suffering from environmental diseases can visit the camp.

Asia Protected Areas Partnership (APAP) has been designed as a key platform to help governments and other stakeholders collaborate for more effective management of protected areas in the region. The partnership was initiated in 2013 at the first-ever Asia Parks Congress held in Japan, and formally launched the following year at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Australia. It is chaired by IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, and co-chaired by an APAP member organisation on a rotational basis, beginning with the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.  The Ministry of Environment, Republic of Korea, is the current co-chair.

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