From November 23-24, 2021 – The 2021 2nd batch of Fellowship Officials embarked on their 2-day study visit. The Fellowship Officials Study Visit is part of the Fellowship Program conducted by the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), the purpose of which is to provide the officials with an opportunity to explore and share expertise and knowledge that can be adopted and transferred to improve their practices in relevant fields. The 2021-2 Visit was programmed under the four main themes of the forestry sector, which are Sustainable Forest Management, Forest Recreation, and Wellbeing, National Policy and Administration on Forestry, and Forest Disaster Management.
The second batch of participants of the Fellowship Program 2021 firstly visited the Yongmun Nursery Center to gain insights into the smart nursery system and explored the latest technologies introduced in the center such as vinyl and glass greenhouses controlled by ICT devices, cold storage, and paper pot transplanter.
Mr. Kim Deok-gyu, the officer in charge in the Yongmun Nursery Center, gave a 40-minute introduction of nursery projects such as the superior seedlings production and the supply and demand of seedlings for afforestation, followed by the center’s various efforts to respond to changes in the seedling environment, such as labor shortage, global warming, increased production, and diversification of tree species, with a short tour of outdoor and indoor nursing sites.
The second venue the officials visited was Garisan managed by Hongcheon National Forest Station. First, the fellowship officials were provided with a tour of Garisan Infant Forest Education Center, where during warmer seasons, children and infants were able to closely connect with the forest and experience nature through various programs and play facilities provided by the experience forest. Next, under the guidance of officers in charge, fellowship officials had a chance to discover Garisan Leading Forest Management Zone to explore the community-based cultivation complex for non-timber forest products (NTFP) such as pine nut, fatsia, and kalopanax pictum. At the Garisan Infant Forest Education Center, fellowship officials had time to look around safety, play, and convenience facilities in the center and learn about discovery and education programs operated, along with the explanation of the forest expounder.
The next visit was at Cheongtaesan Natural Recreational Forest. There, the fellowship officials were briefed on the activities and programs provided by the recreational forest such log houses, forest paths for trekking and hike and the woodcraft experiences. The recreational forest is an innovative way to experience the forest and at the same time, it contributes to income generation as well as nature education. At the end of the day, the fellowship officials halted at the recreational forest accommodation to experience the forest lodge and facilities of the center.
The Fellows started the second day with a visit to the Northern Regional Office of the Korea Forest Service.
At the Northern Regional Forest Office, the fellowship officials were given an overview of the Organization, the total number of stations under the regional office, and the main tasks which are represented as ‘GREEN’ (Grow, Ready, Enjoy, and Nature). To sustainably utilize the timber, develop local communities through joint forestry business, make forest accessible to all through children’s forest, urban forest, and trail, etc, and protect forest resources from illegal harvesting and cutting are some of the major mandates of the northern regional forest office.
A brief round of tour of the office was given to the forest fire section, after the very engaging and informative presentation session, which was followed by a Q&A session thereafter. The forest fire monitoring team introduced the high-tech and advanced tools and system of forest fire management in Korea, which showed how effectively and systematically the Northern Regional Office of the KFS operated and responded to forest fires within its responsible regions.
The study visit was finalized with a visit to the Korea Forest Aviation Headquarters, where the fellowship officials had the opportunity to observe the operation of a situation room for forest disaster management.
The fellowship officials were warmly welcomed by the Director-General Mr. Ko Kiyeon with his officials in the Korea Forest Aviation Headquarter. There are introduced to the technology to monitor fire in real-time, the fire-fighting helicopters and drones, and the training provided to firefighters. The headquarter responds to various disasters occurring in the country through its various stations located in different parts of the country. The DG also shared that together with AFoCO, the Forest Aviation Headquarter is planning to assist and support member countries of AFoCO through training and capacity development programs on wildfire management in the near future and welcomed any suggestions and recommendations to further develop and collaborate the programs among Member Parties.
After the briefing, the participants were taken on a short tour around the headquarter to witness and familiarize themselves with the technology which was then followed by hands-on training to operate drones to suppress the fire. The hands-on practice session both on drone operations and fire extinguishment provided a memorable experience of real-life techniques and measures to respond to forest-related disasters such as forest fires and forest diseases and pests.
Overall, the study visit ended with a fruitful learning experience for the fellowship officials, with opportunities to engage in questions with all of the institutions, along with some hands-on experience on the advanced system of forest management of Korea.
Submitted by Team Assistants Han YoungJu and Cha Jiyea, and Sapana Sunar, 2021 AFoCO Fellowship Official from Bhutan