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Botanic Gardens of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)

Volume 3 Number 2 - July 2006

Wan Ik Ri

The main botanic garden in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is the Central Botanical Garden built the foot of Mt. Taesong in Pyongyang in 1959 (Secretariat of the CBD, 1998).  The DPRK has also built small botanic gardens in every provincial city and near Mt. Paekdu (Samjiyon county, Ryanggang Province) for the conservation of alpine plants.  There are other gardens in significant areas of biodiversity such as Mt. Oga (Hwapyong county, Jagang Province) and Ongjin (S. Hwanghae Province Yangdok). In 1998, apart from the Central Botanical Garden, DPRK had 14 provincial botanic gardens, 3 arboreta, and 21 city or county gardens.  An arboretum of 100 ha was being built near the Central Botanic Garden with the aim of preserving 2,500 species through collecting saplings.

The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of the DPRK states that there are plans to improve their information systems and study the breeding systems of endangered and rare species. In particular the Central Botanic Garden should cultivate rare plants such as Pentactina rupicola (Rosaceae), Abeliophyllum distichum (Oleaceae), Echinosophora koreenis (Leguminosae) which are monspecific genera and economic species with high medicinal values.  The Action Plan proposes the establishment of a state seed bank in collaboration with the present seed banks for the conservation of the rare species of North Korea.

The Central Botanical Garden (20 ha) is divided into 14 sections which include ornamental plants, economic plants, an orchard, an experimental plot, a tree nursery, a herbarium and a meteorological observatory.  It is estimated that about 8,500 plant species are cultivated in the Central Botanic Garden, of which 2,500 species are native.  The systematic garden has 480 native trees species and 500 species of herbaceous plants. The medicinal herb garden features exhibits of 500 species of medicinal herbs.  The orchard section occupies 2.4 ha and has more than 1,000 trees which grow in Korea and abroad. Among them are Persimmon (Diospyros sp.), Hazel (Corylus), Ribes sinanense and Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba).  This section will support research for propagating fruit trees of high economic value and enrich the botanic knowledge of working people and schoolchildren.  The Central Botanic Garden also grows the Kimilsungia (Dendrobium cultivars) and Kimjongilia (Begonia x tuberhybrida cultivars) greenhouses and an orchard of plants which have been given, which forms an "international friendship botanic garden.

There is also a Museum of Botany in the Central Botanical Garden for science and technology with a herbarium which holds 200,000 specimens.  The Central Botanical Garden publishes a regular Bulletin.  It has established relations with 30 countries to share information.  It has published two volumes of the Flora of Korea, A Reference to trees of economic value, Plants of economic value in our country and an illustrated book on the Korean Flora which has contributed to the country's botanical development and spread of knowledge about plants. 

About the Author 

Wan Ik Ri is Vice Director and Head of Research at the Korea Central Botanical Garden

References

Secretariat of the CBD, 1998. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
Part 1: http://www.biodiv.org/doc/world/kp/kp-nbsap-01-p1-en.pdf accessed, 4 April, 2006.
Part 2: http://www.biodiv.org/doc/world/kp/kp-nbsap-01-p2-en.pdf accessed, 4 April, 2006.