Korea, Republic of (ROK) - Forestry

Forests covered 6,248,000 ha (15,439,000 acres) in 2000, or about 63.3% of the ROK's total area, but wood supplies are grossly inadequate to meet the needs of the fast-growing plywood and paper industries. Most of the original forests were destroyed during the Korean War and have been transformed into pine forests under a massive government reforestation program. Conifers now account for 45% of the forest; broad-leaved species (such as oak), 28%; and mixed forests, 27%. About 21% of all forested land is nationally owned and is the focus of extensive reforestation efforts. The government is supporting local efforts to invest in forest development projects abroad. According to the FAO, estimated production of roundwood in 2000 was 4,041,000 cu m (142 million cu ft); sawnwood, 4,300,000 cu m (152 million cu ft); and plywood, 797,000 cu m (2.8 million cu ft). Softwoods (mostly red pine and larch) accounted for about 80% of the production; hardwoods (mainly oak), 20%. Because of low quality, domestic roundwood is mainly used for chopsticks, crates, match wood, and wood chips. Whereas plywood and wood pulp were once traditional export items, the role of forestry products in generating export earnings is now shrinking. The ROK now imports about 95% of its forest products. Imports of forest products amounted to nearly $3.7 billion in 2000 (primarily from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the United States). Imports have been boosted by a growing demand for single and multifamily wood frame houses.

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