Expats unite for Mt. Bukhan
By John Redmond
Mt. Bukhan is one of the most popular hiking attractions in Seoul. Averaging 5 million visitors a year, Bukhan Mountain National Park is the “Most Visited National Park per Unit Area” according CNN. However, according to the nature conservations, 350,000 trees are dying of Oak Wilt disease.
Oak Wilt is a bacterial disease that causes leaf discoloration, wilting, defoliation and ultimately the death of infected trees. The disease is spread by the numerous insects that live in tree bark. Since there is no cure, prevention is the only option.
To celebrate Earth Day at the end of April, Mannam Volunteer International arranged to wrap 600 blighted trees with a biodegradable sticky film made of sweet potato that prevents the spread of the disease.
Some 350 volunteers and hikers showed up to help in any way they could. The national park allowed a small group to wrap a handful of the diseased trees as a gesture of gratitude since so many had donated towards this particular project.
For the main task though, expat volunteers manually delivered bags of soil up the mountain to cover exposed roots. “We put earth on the revealed roots to protect those trees from dying,” volunteer staff member Alexandrnya Schoeppl explained. A lack of soil means a lack of nutrients for trees. It could also lead to other problems.
The rain did nothing to stop the participants from enjoying their day on the mountain celebrating international Earth Day. It was a positive experience and a great workout for volunteer Barbie Stinnett of the United States. “I think it’s great that everyone came out in the pouring rain. I really enjoyed volunteering for Earth Day.” Adam Rozalowski from Poland said, “It’s too bad that it rained, but everyone was in good spirits and we had a good time. A lot of foreigners here enjoy hiking in the mountains, so this is something that we can do to give back.” He adds that it’s important we do what we can to conserve the nature we enjoy.
The project of wrapping diseased trees on was completed April 29.
This event was hosted by Mannam Volunteer International and sponsored by Bukhan Mt. National Park. The national park’s website is http://bukhan.knps.or.kr. More volunteer opportunities can be found on www.mannamintl.org.