Plots for Food Lost to Reforestation Efforts

Kang Mi Jin  |  2015-04-08 15:38
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As part of leader Kim Jong Euns efforts for reforestation, North Koreans cultivating small plots on roadsides or mountain slopes have been ordered to plant trees in those areas and dispense with cultivation of the land in four years time.

In time for national mobilization for land management, forest protection agents announced at inminban [peoples unit] meetings that residents using individual plots near the road or on the slopes of mountains will have to manage trees planted there while cultivating the land, a source from Yangkang Province told Daily NK on Monday.

He added, "The major problem here is that they were ordered to abandon that land after four years and stop farming there. This has seriously upset a lot of people."

Following Kim Jong Euns visit to Pyongyangs Central Tree Nursery late last year, orders to plant trees in individual plots were handed down nationwide. However, many chopped down trees that were impeding farming practices, to which the state responded by slapping a ban on cultivating the land after the trees reach four years of maturity, according to the source.

Despite the mandate, some residents still weed out the seedlings, meaning that for at least the month of April, the forest protection agents, of whom numbers continue to rise, will "basically have to live and work in the mountains," the source said.  

Still, the source speculated the number of those daring to get rid of trees will not be particularly high. This is because Kim Jong Eun's emphasis on reforestation as an issue of top priority implies serious repercussions for anyone that goes against related orders. Some have even said weeding out planted trees at a time when the entire nation is busy with reforestation would be like grabbing brushwood and throwing yourself into a fire," he said.  

Another source reported that people have expressed frustration about the fact that food security is seen as less of a priority than reforestation. "If trees are planted on hillside plots or strips of land near the roads, there will be less for people to eat. If the state doesnt guarantee food, people will just move elsewhere and keep cultivating whatever land they can, decimating other forest areas," he concluded. 

*The contents of this article were broadcast to the North Korean people via Unification Media Group.

*Translation by Jiyeon Lee

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