Korea Forest Service Minister
By Kim Tae-gyu
Korea will try to successfully launch the first Asian international agency by 2013 proposed by the country, the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) to be based in Seoul.
The Korea Forest Service (KFS) said Monday that the country will put forth its best efforts to realize its agreement with ASEAN member states last week on the establishment of AFoCO.
The new organization was proposed by Korea in 2009 to facilitate forest cooperation and prevent deforestation and forest degradation in Asia so that the continent can better deal with climate change and efficiently foster talented individuals in the segment.
The head office will be situated in Seoul and the nation agreed details on how to set up the multinational agency over the next two years with ASEAN members last week. Upon its foundation, its membership will be expanded to other Asian countries.
KFS Minister Lee Don-koo said that the new entity should play a significant role in bringing back forests to the Asian continent, the home to around 20 percent of the world’s animals and species
``When Korea was facing difficulties in the past, we received a lot of help from other states. Now is the time we are required to pay back something to developing countries, in particular those in Asia,’’ Lee said in a recent email interview.
``Korea has been able to chalk up fast economic growth after restoring forests, the growth model recognized by the world. Our experiences would offer great hope to Asia.’’
Korea was infamous for its deforestation about half a century ago when people felled trees to use as energy sources but it successfully carried out campaigns of planting trees and protecting them across the country.
Currently, Korea is regarded as one of the most forested areas in the world and it has gained the spotlight thanks to a track record of achieving the rare combination of forestation and economic growth at the same time.
Lee said AFoCO will also financially underpin Korea because the nation can nudge ahead of competitors in securing carbon emission rights on the strength of partnership with Asian neighbors.
The professor-turned-minister stressed that AFoCO will generate a win-win solution for both Korea and ASEAN member states.
``Carbon emission rights earned in collaboration with developing countries are around twice as cheap as those traded in advanced markets. Partnerships with them are of great importance to us,’’ he said.