‘Reserve forest!’, ‘Plant trees!’. We can often hear or see these slogans from public service advertisings or textbooks. However, we cannot get inspiration from these slogans, because the slogans cannot give us a motive or interest. Although we already knew that we must reserve our forests to protect our environment, most people have not put their thoughts into action. To solve this problem, various kinds of new campaigns are in operation. Combining education and culture with forest activiesactives is a case in point. To inquire into this movement and find a new possibility in Korea’s forest management, The Chung-Ang Herald (CAH) visited and interviewed ‘Forest for Life’, a kind of environmental protection civic group.
Forest for Life is an association of people dedicated to preserving forests, so that the present and future generations can live in a clean and healthy environments. In 1998, the Forest for Life foundation was established and began the “Forest Tending Movement” campaign. The idea was to inspire new vitality into dying forests. Before that, we just planted trees without any thought on where to plant them first or understanding of post planting management. Now Forest for Life conducts several campaigns such as “The Schoolyard Forest Project”, “The Forest Trail Activity”, “The Model Forest Activity”, “The Village Forest Activity”, “The Beautiful Forest Contest”, “The City Forest Activity” and other Education and Cultural activities at the same time.
Forest for Life is established with the motto that revitalizing a growing forest. However, they do not only operated to increase the economical value of forests. Instead of this, they have made efforts to increase public functions and values of forest. Among these, they paid attention to cultural and educational values of the forest as person’s interest with culture and education increases. Forest for Life made a Department of Culture and Education, to manage cultural and educational activities efficiently. Forest for Life tells people about the importance and value of the forests by giving them a chance to enjoy being surrounded by it and, in so doing, create a living culture with the forest.
Interview with Kim Seung-sun
CAH: Would you introduce Forest for Life’s Educational activities?
Kim Seung-sun: Forest for life is making progress with various programs that provide educational programs to participants, such as the One-day field experience of taking care of forests, Forest for Life Classrooms, Forest for life Trips, Four seasons of Hong-Reung, and Forestations for the next generation. These programs have been operating as a character building exercise for participants. In addition, local Forest for life offices is operating various programs itself that reflect local area characteristics. Through these programs, every year, tens of thousands of teenagers and citizens are receiving educational favors.
In May 2007, Forest for life held the “Forest Olympiad” with Geumsan-gun, Chungcheongnam-do. The Forest Olympiad is a forest preservation program like Expo and five hundred people participated in this event. Especially, this is not a simple forest experience program, but an advanced program that checks conditions of forests and makes habitats for animals and plants.
CAH: So then, tell us more about the cultural part?
Kim Seung-sun: Forest for Life endeavors to blend culture to forest. Meeting of Forest for Life and artists includes literary man’s contribution to cultural activities to those, which Forest for Life is promoting. Right after its establishment, we open “Meeting of Forest for Life and literature” in association with ‘The Korean Writers’ Association’. After that, poet Kim Hu-ran (now the chief director of Forest for Life) was elected, so the connection with literary arts is strong. In November 1998, due to their endeavors, a large-scale concert “Forest for Life concert” can be held in a prosperous condition.
Now many artists, such as writers, musicians, sculptors, etc are participating in the Department of Culture and Education in Forest for Life. They made a plan, “Forest art festival”, and conducted a cultural course named ‘Forest for Life and Culture’ several times.
CAH: What does Forest for life expect people to do through cultural and educational activities?
Kim Seung-sun: Of course, there are many values we can learn from cultural and educational activities, but, above all things, it is most important that people can approach forests more easily and comfortably. Statements like ‘Must reserve’ or ‘must not pluck a flower’ can give coercive feeling and pressure about forest preservation. On the contrary, if people experience cultural and educational activities in the forest, they can know what a forest is and what animals and plants are living in the forest. Furthermore, the activity will give people sensibility and ‘voluntary’ interest, so we can expect people to participate in forest preservation activity amusedly and spontaneously. For example, if you learn about a flower’s name, special feature, or flower language, etc, and paint the flower, you will have an interest in the flower and protect it. In fact, people who participated in the cultural and educational activities showed a passionate interest and reaction.
CAH: CAH heard that Forest for Life has trained forest advocates.
Kim Seung-sun: Yes. Forest for Life has trained forest advocates, who can run events and take charge of forest education. We have a nationwide forest advocates training course. That is so systematic, so forest exponents of good quality have been produced. Recently, the project team that is comprised of specialists in forestry and environmental education is developing a new forest advocates training course and teaching materials.
CAH: How do you feel about the current situation of forest management in Korea? And what are some solutions?
Kim Seung-sun: People like mountain climbing, interest in forestry is also increasing. However, compared with advanced countries, national awareness and efforts are insufficient. Many people do not regard forests as an object, which is intimately associated with us in our life, but think that forest is just a means of pastime. Therefore, more people are climbing than in the past, but food, drink, and cooking in the forest, which climbers often do and the trash they throw away while doing these activities is increasing. In this event, ironically, their ‘interest destroyed the forest’.
In the case of Japan, Germany, and Canada, interest in forestry is high and protection activities are very active. In Canada, tournament of climbing trees or wood chopping are catching on in popularity. In Japan, the handicapped can enjoy the forest, because special roads through out the forest and mountain are made for the handicapped. In other words, the countries provide people with circumstance that people can enjoy forest. Consequently, we need to have a more mature awareness and make arduous endeavors to protect the forests.
CAH: Finally, tell university students what you want to say.
Kim Seung-sun: I want that university students know they can ‘enjoy’ forest and ‘learn’ from forest. Furthermore, forests will be your comfortable rest place. Now, there are many functional way that university students can get units and voluntary service career. Once you participate in various cultural and educational activities with forest, you will love forest without your knowledge.
Our ancestors thought that the forest and human race have equal value. Moreover, they enjoyed cultural life in forest, and regarded forest as comfortable existence such as their friend or family. If we also regard forest as our easy rest area or cultural and educational place, forest will revive and be a ‘living thing’.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >