According to the Guardian, organizers for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang are decimating a 23 hectare area of sacred forest on Mount Gariwang to make way for an alpine skiing venue. The forest remains one of the more preserved woodlands left in South Korea after the country saw extreme deforestation during the 20th and 21st centuries.
Some of the trees in what used to be a protected forest are between 500 and a 1,000 years old.
The forest, which contains firs, Khingan firs, and a variety of rare trees is an ecologically sensitive area and environmental groups are not buying claims made by olympic officials that the area can be restored to its prior condition once the games are concluded. In addition to the site being a unique environment, many Koreans view the site as sacred due to its connection to the Chosun dynasty.
In 2008, the South Korean government even designated the mountain as a protected forest. However, that classification was removed after Pyeongchang was chosen as the Olympic venue.
The professor of ecological economics and forestry policy at Seoul National University, Youn Yeo-chang is saying that these trees are extremely hard to restore and replant.
“We have already seen how they begin to die out once they have been replanted after being removed to allow for construction of ski resorts.”– Youn Yeo-chang, professor of ecological economics and forestry policy at Seoul National University
On the other hand, Olympic spokesperson Jihye Lee is saying that the olympic organizing committee has done their homework and subsequently avoided an area that included the rare and sensitive Taxus Cuspidata trees. She added that measures were being taken to plant an additional 33 of these trees to preserve the species and ecosystem.
The forest serves as habitat for Lynx as well as other endangered plants and animals.
Read The Entire Guardian Article Here: Olympic organisers destroy ‘sacred’ South Korean forest to create ski run