Integrated policy for forests, food security and sustainable livelihoods: lessons from the Republic of Korea

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Republic of Korea was one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Deforestation had stripped the country of half its forest cover, contributing to severe erosion, repetitive flood and drought damage and a decrease in agricultural production which threatened national food security. Recognizing the importance of forests’ watershed and soil protection functions in restoring agricultural productivity, the government undertook an intensive forest rehabilitation effort. The implementation of two Ten-Year Forest Rehabilitation Plans in the 1970s and 1980s not only fully restored the country’s forest cover, but also delivered food security benefits and contributed to national economic development. These goals were achieved by integrating forestry, rural development and community mobilization in the rehabilitation policy. This study demonstrates how the rehabilitation plans incorporated food and nutrition objectives and how forest rehabilitation contributed to satisfying the four dimensions of food security; food availability, food access, food utilization and stability of food security. This experience may provide inspiration for other developing countries desiring to incorporate forest rehabilitation and sustainable forest management in their food security goals and policies