South Korea

63.5% —or about 6,265,000 hectares—of Republic of Korea is forested.

Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, Republic of Korea lost an average of 7,100 hectares of forest per year. The amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 0.11%. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of forest change decreased by 0.3% to 0.11% per annum. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Republic of Korea lost 1.7% of its forest cover, or around 106,000 hectares. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Republic of Korea lost 12.8% of its forest and woodland habitat.

Biodiversity and Protected Areas: South Korea has some 550 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 4.2% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 8.5% are threatened. South Korea is home to at least 2898 species of vascular plants, of which 7.7% are endemic. 3.6% of South Korea is protected under IUCN categories I-V.


South Korea: Forest Cover, 2005
Total Land Area (ha)9,873,000
Total Forest Area (ha)6,265,000
Percent Forest Cover63.46%
Primary Forest Cover (ha)-
Primary Forest, % total forest-
Primary Forest, % total land-
Other wooded land (ha)-

South Korea: Forest types
Tropical (% forest area)0%
Subtropical (% forest area)15%
Temperate (% forest area)85%
Boreal/polar (% forest area)0%

South Korea: Breakdown of forest types, 2005
Primary forest (ha | %)--
Modified natural (ha | %)4,901,00078.2%
Semi-natural (ha | %)--
Production plantation (ha | %)1,364,00021.8%
Production plantation (ha | %)--

South Korea: Change in Forest Cover
Forest 1990 (ha)6,371,000
Forest 2000 (ha)6,300,000
Forest 2005 (ha)6,265,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(7,100)-0.11%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(7,000)-0.11%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(106,000)-1.66%
Change in rate (%)-0.30%
Primary 1990 (ha)-
Primary 2000 (ha)-
Primary 2005 (ha)-
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)--
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)--
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)--
Change in rate (%)-
Other 1990 (ha)-
Other 2000 (ha)-
Other 2005 (ha)-
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)--
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)--
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)--
Change in rate (%)-
Other 1990 (ha)748,000
Other 2000 (ha)1,188,000
Other 2005 (ha)1,364,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)44,0005.88%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)35,2002.96%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)616,00082.35%
Change in rate (%)-49.63%
Forest area+Wooded Area-Plantations
Other 1990 (ha)5,623,000
Other 2000 (ha)5,112,000
Other 2005 (ha)4,901,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(51,100)-0.91%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(42,200)-0.83%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(722,000)-12.84%
Change in rate (%)-9.16%

South Korea: Primary
Primary or "old-growth" vegetation
Primary Forest 2005 (ha)-
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)-
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)0
Undisturbed vegetation 2005 (% land area)0.00%

South Korea: Forest designation
Ownership of forest land, 2000
Public (%)30.0%
Private (%)70.0%
Other (%)0.0%
Ownership of other wooded land, 2000
Public (%)-
Private (%)-
Other (%)-
Designated functions of forest – primary function 2005
Production (%)77.8%
Protection (%)11.4%
Conservation (%)7.5%
Social Services (%)3.3%
Multiple Services (%)-
None of Unknown (%)0.0%

South Korea: Disturbances affecting forest land 2000
Forest Area annually affected by
Fire (%)0.11%
Insects (ha)5.40%
Diseases (ha)-
Other (ha)-

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South Korea: Biodiversity - Plants
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Number of Native tree species
Native tree species1,049
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Critically Endangered0
Vascular Plant Species, 2004
Number endemic224
Number of Threatened Plant Species, 2004
Species threatened0

South Korea: Value of forests
Biomass stock in forest, 2005
Above-ground biomass (M t)383
Below-ground biomass (M t)132
Dead wood (M t)57
Total (M t)572
Carbon stock in forest, 2005
Carbon in above-ground biomass (M t)192
Carbon in below-ground biomass (M t)66
Carbon in dead wood (M t)28
Carbon in litter (M t)-
Soil carbon (M t)-
Change in growing stock 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate (1000 cubic m/yr)
Growing stock per hectare 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate ( cubic m/ha per yr)
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (1000 cubic m)1,754
Wood fuel (1000 cubic m)2,320
Total wood removal 2005 (1000 cubic m)4,074
Total wood removal 2005 (% of growing stock)1
Plant products 2005
Food (t)231,199
Fodder (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)1,233
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Raw material for utensils, handicrafts & construction (t)-
Ornamental plants (t)-
Exudates (t)-
Other plant products (t)-
Animal products 2005
Living animals (units)-
Hides, skins and trophies (units)-
Wild honey and bee-wax (t)-
Bush meat (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Other edible animal products (t)-
Other non-edible animal products (t)-
Value of wood and non-wood forest product removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (US$)$202,667,000
Wood fuel (US$)$13,404,000
Non-wood forest products (US$)$937,990,000
Total value (US$)$1,154,061,000
Total value ($USD/ha)$184
Employment in forestry 2000
Total people employed20,000

South Korea: Production, trade and consumption of forest products, 2002
Woodfuel ('000 cubic m), 2002
Industrial roundwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Sawnwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Wood-based panels ('000 cubic m), 2002
Pulp for paper ('000 metric tons), 2002
Paper and paperboard ('000 metric tons), 2002
South Korea: Environment
Environment - current issuesair pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Natural hazardsoccasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest

South Korea: Land use / Resources
Land use (%)arable land: 17.18%
permanent crops: 1.95%
other: 80.87% (2001)
Natural resourcescoal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential

South Korea: Economy
Economy - overview:Since the early 1960s, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth and integration into the high-tech modern world economy. Four decades ago, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies. Today its GDP per capita is equal to the lesser economies of the European Union. This success through the late 1980s was achieved by a system of close government/business ties, including directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries, and a strong labor effort. The government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-99 exposed longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. Growth plunged to a negative 6.9% in 1998, then strongly recovered to 9.5% in 1999, and 8.5% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.3% in 2001 because of the slowing global economy, falling exports, and the perception that much-needed corporate and financial reforms had stalled. Led by consumer spending and exports, growth in 2002 was an impressive 7.0%, despite anemic global growth. Between 2003 and 2005, growth moderated to about 4%. A downturn in consumer spending was offset by rapid export growth. In 2005, the government proposed labor reform legislation and a corporate pension scheme to help make the labor market more flexible, and new real estate policies to cool property speculation. Moderate inflation, low unemployment, an export surplus, and fairly equal distribution of income characterize this solid economy.
GDP - per capita$20,300 (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate (%)3.7% (2005 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit; cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs; fish
GDP - composition by sector (%)agriculture: 3.8%, industry: 41.4%, services: 54.8% (2005 est.)
Industries electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Population below poverty line (%)4% (2001 est.)
Debt - external$188.4 billion (30 June 2005 est.)
Labor force - by occupation (%)agriculture 8%, industry 19%, services 73% (2004 est.)

South Korea: Population / Demographics
Population (July 2005)48,422,644
Population growth rate (%) (2005)0.38%
Population density (people/sq km) (2005)493.2
Median age (years)total: 34.51 years
Total fertility rate (children born/woman)1.26 (2005 est.)
Ethnic groups (%)homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)

Largest Cities in South Korea

Cities and urban areas in South Korea with population over 100,000 All figures are estimates for 2002.

CityCountryCity PopulationUrban Area Population
SeoulSouth Korea1115320019844500
PusanSouth Korea40853004292900
TaeguSouth Korea25438002976700
IncheonSouth Korea24330002433000
TaejeonSouth Korea13868001612900
KwangjuSouth Korea13710001464000
SeongnamSouth Korea10712001071200
UlsanSouth Korea8703001137900
PucheonSouth Korea850000850000
SuweonSouth Korea824000824000
AnyangSouth Korea644700644700
CheonjuSouth Korea614200614200
CheongjuSouth Korea579500579500
KoyangSouth Korea565300565300
AnsanSouth Korea556600556600
ChangweonSouth Korea4867001253800
PohangSouth Korea435100435100
MasanSouth Korea421000421000
KwangmyeongSouth Korea382700382700
EuijeongbuSouth Korea301100301100
ChinjuSouth Korea290600290600
ChejuSouth Korea281900281900
KumiSouth Korea271600271600
MokpoSouth Korea269900269900
IksanSouth Korea253200253200
CheonanSouth Korea241800241800
KunsanSouth Korea229900229900
PyeongtaekSouth Korea223900223900
ChuncheonSouth Korea215200215200
WeonjuSouth Korea201100201100
YeosuSouth Korea200200200200
SuncheonSouth Korea196500196500
KangneungSouth Korea173100173100
KyeongjuSouth Korea164700164700
ChungjuSouth Korea160300160300
AndongSouth Korea137300137300
PoryongSouth Korea133700133700
ChechonSouth Korea116000116000
TongyongSouth Korea104700104700
TonghaeSouth Korea104100104100

 Environment, Land use / Resources, Economy, Population / Demographics, Infrastructure, Health -- CIA World Factbook, 2005
 Forest Cover, Forest types, Breakdown of forest types, Change in Forest Cover, Primary forests, Forest designation, Disturbances affecting forest land, Value of forests, Production, trade and consumption of forest products -- The FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS's Global Forest Resources Assessment (2005) and the State of the World’s Forests (2005, 2003, 2001)
 Protected Areas, Plant and animal biodiversity -- United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). 2004. World Database on Protected Areas.
 Biosphere reservers -- United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - Man and Biosphere Program. 2004. UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory.
 RAMSAR sites -- The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands . 2005. The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
 World Resources Institute's EarthTrends web site
 The 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
 Population Data -- United Nations Population Fund
 With additional analysis by Rhett Butler of

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