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As of December 2020, the forest area of the Republic of Korea accounted for 62.6% (6.286 million ha) of its total land area of 10.041 million ha, ranking 4th among OECD countries after Finland, Sweden, and Japan. As the designation of other roads such as the construction of roads, housing, and industrial complex has been changed, forests have been decreasing by an average of 9,635 ha per year for the past 5 years, down 48 kha (0.76%) from the end of 2015.
In the ROK, forests are categorized as national forests, public forests, or private forests. As a result of government policy aimed at expanding national forests to promote the public value of forests and expand carbon sinks, national forests are increasing but the total area of private forests remains the largest at 4,152 kha. The estimated total areas of national and public forests stand at 1,653 kha and 482 kha respectively. On the contrary, forest growing stock per hectare is the highest in national forests (182m3), which are systematically managed based on forest management plans such as afforestation and forest cultivation, followed by public forests (173.3m3) and private forests (157.5m3).
Forest growing stock was estimated to be 1.038 million m3 in December 2020, an increase of 113 million m3 (12.3%) compared to the end of 2015. The reason for the surge in forest growing stock is attributed mainly to the extensive forest management measures conducted by the Korea Forest Service (KFS) between the 1960s to early 1970s during the 1st and 2nd term of the national economic development plans.
In terms of forest areas, coniferous forests accounted for the largest proportion as of 2020, but have been on a steady decline since 2003, and forest growing stock by type shows the distribution of coniferous forests 424,604 thousand m3 (45.9%), broadleaved forests 245,745 thousand m3 (26.6%), and mixed forests 254,461 thousand m3 (27.5%).
Forests in the ROK provide an estimated 195 billion USD worth of public benefit in 2018, constituting about 11.7% of the country’s GDP. Aside from absorbing 6.4% of the total GHG emission in the country, the ROK’s forests provide a myriad of other public benefits in terms of forest landscape, soil erosion prevention, forest recreation, watershed enhancement, water purification, oxygen generation, biodiversity conservation, landslide prevention, air quality improvement, and forest healing.
[Main reference] Korea Forest Service Official site.
 Korea Forest Service. 2021. The Statistical Yearbook of Forestry 2020.
 Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport. 2021. Cadastral Statistical Annual Report.
|2021||Statistics||Preliminary Results of 2020 Census of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries||Link|
|2021||Statistics||2021 Cadastral Statistical Annual Report||Link|
|2021||Statistics||The Statistical Yearbook of Forestry 2020||Link||Link|
|2021||Strategy/Plan||Forest Vision and Policy 2020||Link|
|2020||Strategy/Plan||Republic of Korea's First Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Updated Submission to the UNFCCC||Link|
|2020||Strategy/Plan||2050 Carbon Neutral Strategy of the Republic of Korea: Towards a Sustainable and Green Society||Link|
|2019||Strategy/Plan||The 6th National Forest Plan (2018-2037)||Link|
|2019||Statistics||The Statistical Yearbook of Forestry 2018||Link||Link|
|2018||Strategy/Plan||Republic of Korea's National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP)||Link|
|2017||Law||Act on Promotion and Management of Forestry Technology||Link|
|2017||Law||Enforcement Decree of the Forestry Culture and Recreation Act||Link|
|2016||Statistics||The Statistical Yearbook of Forestry 2015||Link|
|2016||Law||Enforcement Decree of the Forest Welfare Promotion Act||Link|
|2015||Law||Forest Welfare Promotion Act||Link|
|2015||Law||Act on the Creation and Furtherance of Arboretums and Gardens||Link|
|2013||Law||Enforcement Decree of the Act on the Sustainable Use of Timbers||Link|
|2013||Law||Act on the Protection of New Varieties of Plants||Link|
|2012||Law||Act on the Sustainable Use of Timbers||Link|
|2012||Law||Act on the management and improvement of carbon sink||Link|
|2011||Statistics||The Statistical Yearbook of Forestry 2010||Link|
|2011||Law||Special Act on Management of Mountaneous Districts North of the Civilian Control||Link|
|2011||Law||Forest Education Promotion Act||Link|
|2010||Law||Framework act on low carbon, green growth||Link|
|2010||Law||Enforcement Decree of the Forest Protection Act||Link|
|2009||Law||Forest Protection Act||Link|
|2007||Law||Forestry and Mountain Villages Development Promotion Act||Link|
|2006||Law||Enforcement Decree of the Creation and Management of Forest Resources Act||Link|
|2006||Law||Mountaineous Districts Management Act||Link|
|2005||Law||Creation and Management of Forest Resources Act||Link|
|2005||Law||Special Act on the Extermination of Pine Wilt Disease||Link|
|2005||Law||Enforcement Decree of the Special Act on the Extermination of Pine Wilt Disease||Link|
|2005||Law||State Forest Administration And Management Act||Link|
|2005||Law||Forestry Culture and Recreation Act||Link|
|2004||Law||Enforcement Decree of the Baekdu-daegan Protection Act||Link|
|2003||Law||Baekdu-daegan Protection Act||Link|
|2001||Law||Framework Act on Forestry||Link|
|1963||Law||Arrangement of Staff Assigned For Special Forest Protection Act||Link|
|1962||Law||Erosion Control Work Act||Link|