October 10, 2018 13:14
North Korea's forest area has shrunk about 40 percent over the last 25 years, according to a UN study. The finding brings home the urgency of the two Koreas' recent agreement to cooperate in restoring forests in the North.
In 2015, forests took up 41.8 percent of the North's total land area, according to the report by the UN Development Programme, down from 68.1 percent as recently as 1990. That was the seventh fastest shrinking rate in the world.
Of 195 countries surveyed, only Togo, Nigeria and a handful of others saw more devastating deforestation at a time when preserving and replanting forests has become vital in trying to tackle climate change.
The rapid shrinkage of its forest area is mainly due to the famine of the 1990s, when starving North Koreans felled millions of trees for firewood, to earn hard currency, and to clear land for agriculture.
Since he took power, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has stressed the need to resolve forestry issues, including encouraging officials to build tree nurseries.
Meanwhile, fossil fuel accounted for 81.4 percent of the North's total energy consumption, a little higher than the world's average of 80.6 percent.
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