– Sharing Korea’s successful forest greening experience through planting ten million trees over 10 years –
On January 12, 2024, in celebration of Timor-Leste’s Tree Planting Day, the Asia Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) held a tree-planting event in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Forestry of Timor-Leste (MALFF). The event took place in the Manatuto district of Timor-Leste and was attended by key figures including Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Nam Sung Hyun, Minister of the Korea Forest Service, and Park Chongho, Executive Director of the Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO), as well as around 200 local residents participating in tree planting.
The event was particularly significant as it involved planting Sandalwood (Santalum album), a symbolic tree of Timor-Leste. Sandalwood, a native species of Timor Island known for its high-quality fragrance, faced extinction due to over 450 years of Portuguese rule in the region.
Alongside the tree-planting event, a ‘Climate Action for Greening Timor-Leste’ declaration ceremony was held. It included the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Forestry of Timor-Leste, the Korea Forest Service, and AFoCO, committing to plant ten million trees over the next 10 years to restore the degraded forests of Timor-Leste. This initiative is seen as the first step in tangible measures to reforest approximately 270,000 ha of Timor-Leste’s deforested lands since 1990.
Executive Director Park Chongho expressed his expectation to transfer Korea’s successful forest greening experience to Timor-Leste through AFoCO projects and to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by implementing forest cooperation activities, the only agreed action under the Paris Agreement.
Timor-Leste, a small island nation the size of Gangwon Province in South Korea (16,873 km²), is located in the eastern part of Timor Island, south of Indonesia. As a member country of AFoCO, Timor-Leste has been collaborating with Korea in recent years to protect forests and restore ecosystems. This cooperation has gained attention as a model example for forest protection and sustainable development in Asia, strengthening the friendly relations between the two countries.
Contributed by Hyungmin Kim, Assistant Program Officer, Strategic Planning Team