Ecological restoration is required for the unused roads of Baekdudaegan to connect the ecosystem.
Due to its mountainous topography, Korea has greatly influenced the natural environment by building the life spaces and facilities which connect the life spaces. Baekdudaegan, the ecological vertical axis of the Korea Peninsula, is suffering from the roads which were inevitably constructed for the transportation between the east and the west because the roads seriously affect the surrounding ecosystem. 30% of those roads pass through the National Park, the Provincial Park as well as the Protected Area for Forest Genetic Resources Conservation and the Ecosystem and Landscape Region for Conservation designated by the Korea Forest Service.
Baekdudaegan comprises of 82 roads in total including 61 paved roads and 21 unpaved roads (as of December 2007, sidewalks are not included.) and is cut off every 8.3km. While wildlife travels Baekdudaegan with the length of 684km, they are likely to face the roads every 8.3km. And the influx of exotic species to the surrounding areas of the roads appears to threaten the residence of wild plants.
Since the Green Korea United began to look into the status of the roads in Baekdudaegan in 1999, the number of roads which cut off Baekdudaegan has been increasing. Among those roads, seven sections in urgent need of ecological restoration were selected based on the following standards.
: section with road which can be used as a alternative route / section in which the tunnel opening remarkably decreased the use of the existing road / section in which the closure of the road does not affect its use / section where the ecosystem can be maintained stable without roads
Those sections are Misiyrong, Jochimryeong, Gunuiryeong, Dumundongjae, Ewharyeong, Shinpoongryeong, and Sachijae.
Sections in urgent need of ecological restoration
Misiryeong is located in Seorak Mountain National Park. The area covering from Madeunryeong to Misiryeong is designated as a Special Protection District of National Park and a Protected Area for Wildlife Habitat (Entrance is not allowed). The traffic in this area is frequently controlled due to the floods in summer and snowstorm in winter. Given the safety and danger of road use, the restoration should be acquired through the road closure. The altitude of this area is so high that the asphalted layer should be removed in stages.
Joshimryeong is located in Seorak Mountain National Park. The area extending from Danmokryeong through Jeombongsan to Hangyeryeong is prohibited to enter by Temporary Closure Program. It is also designated as and protected by a Protected Area for Forest Genetic Resources Conservation. Sediment discharge caused by the unpaved roads urgently requires the closure and restoration of the roads. Prohibiting the entrance of climbers can minimize the interference and monitoring itself makes it possible to start the restoration project.
Gunuiryeong is defined as an ecological axis which connects Mt. Odae and Mt. Taebaek and the juncture of main rivers including Han River, Nakdong River, Oship Stream, etc. It is a natural forest comprised of oak trees and a colony of pine trees and especially provides the wildlife with stable habitat. Currently car is not allowed to pass the area from Samchoek to the top of Gunuiryeong. Local residents are using the road heading from the top of Gunuiryeong to Dogye but there’s no arable land near the top. Therefore, it is required to promote the ecological restoration after designating this area as a Baekdudaegan Protection Area.
Dumundongjae is protected as a Mt. Daedeok-Geumdaebong Ecological Scenery Preservation Area and a Protected Area for Forest Genetic Resources Conservation. It has high altitude of 1268m and road is frequently restricted to use due to the snowfalls. Car is hardly to pass this area, which has little influence on the move of wildlife. Considering the surrounding ecosystem, ecological restoration is the most needed than any other areas.
Ewharyeong is defined as an ecological axis which connects Sokri Mountain National Park, Munkyeongsaejae Provincial Park, and Wolak Mountain National Park. Mt. Heeyang area is a special subordinate branch of Jogye Order and its natural ecosystem has been well preserved since its area of around 4 million pyeong (one pyeong equals to 3.3㎡) was restricted to enter. Jungbu Naeryuk National Highway, Highway 3, and Provincial Highway pass through this area and these highways have been the case of budget mismanagement. It is urgent to restore Provincial Highway to connect Ewharyeong. A research found that ecological passage may not be necessary in this area because only about 50 cars pass by these roads every day enabling the move of wildlife.
Shinpoongryeong is located in Deokyoo Mountain National Park. Linking the ridge line can be considered in this area by putting the tunnel cover on the summit of a pass. After improving the ridgeline by building tunnel cover, a study on how to move the highway to other place should be implemented.
The frequency of killing of protective wildlife in the roads situated in Mt. Jiri District is so higher than any other areas that the habitat of wildlife is threatened. According to the expansion project plan of 88 Olympic Highway, the useless tunnel will be constructed. If the linear 88 Olympic Highway is not maintained, ecological restoration can be achieved by using the surrounding vegetation. Since the altitude of Sachijae is 500m, small-scale park in which local residents and tourists can enjoy can be built.
Ecological restoration of the unused roads is more effective than planting trees in the roadside.
The restored area of seven sections in urgent need of restoration after the tunnel setup is equivalent to the total area of 72 soccer fields and around 130,000 trees can be planted. Therefore, around 1,300 tons of CO2 may be absorbed through trees planted in the unused roads which cut off Baekdudaegan annually.
With the same number of trees, ecological restoration to link the ridgeline of Baekdudaegan is more effective than planting trees in other areas. That is why forest can fit into the surrounding area enabling stable ecosystem. Differentiated ecological restoration measures should be taken according to the characteristics of the region.
Given the diversity of ecosystem in Korea, the same measure can’t be taken to restore the ecosystem. Ecological restoration project should be differentiated depending on the region. When it comes to Baekdudaegan, forest ecosystem restoration project should come first and the features of natural environment should be considered for restoration method such as stream, path for residents, etc.
By removing the asphalted layers, the earth can breathe, the water flows and thereby restoring the severed ecosystem. Therefore, local governments and the Korea Forest Service need to start on restoration project in stages considering how to meet the demands for investigation and how to restore the unused roads.
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