The success of an unusual project has been documented in the book Ten years of sloping land management, published by the Swiss Cooperation and the DPR Koreaâ€™s Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection. The land restoration effort in Hwanghae province has been analyzed by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), using funds from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (see blog at Sciencecodex).
The project is unusual, as it is based on a participatory approach that gives land user groups, as they are called, a say in land management. It was born out of necessity, in the wake of massive land degradation:
In the 1990ies, the DPR Korea could no longer rely on the Soviet Union for its food security. Food production was increased at the expense of forests. 80% of the DPR Korea consists of mountains or upland slopes. The degraded land was then prone to landslides after heavy rainfalls.
In the beginning of the 2000s, the government tried to reverse this process by granting land user groups special rights to these sloping lands, contrary to the usual top down policy in the country. The approach was supported by the Swiss Cooperation agency.
By introducing agroforestry vast areas could be restored, tree cover and agricultural yields increased. In Hwangae province alone 87 user groups were counted in 2011, when ICRAF analyzed the project.
Ten years of sloping land management now tells the story partly from the beneficiariesâ€™ perspective.