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Deforestation occurred in Korean Peninsula 2000 years ago

Deforestation occurred in Korean Peninsula 2000 years ago

Posted April. 19, 2023 08:02,   

Updated April. 19, 2023 08:02


A study has revealed that a significant portion of forests in Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula was lost approximately 2,000 years ago due to rising state powers, cultivation of farming land, and fragmentation of villages.

“Palynology materials, including an analysis of pollen dispersion, and historical records such as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Chronicles of the Three States, were used to investigate the forest loss,” said Seo Min-soo, a researcher at the Korea Ecological and Environmental History Research Institute, at the conference of the Korea Ancient History Academic Conference, in a presentation themed the “Ecological Environment in the Era of State Formation and Changes in Landscape.”

While the high level of tree pollen in the deposits indicated the high density of the forests, the elevated level of non-tree pollen in the deposits suggested forest loss.

Results showed that the Korean Peninsula underwent the loss of forests approximately 2,000 years ago. Deforestation accelerated in lowland areas of the southern and western coast of the peninsula, where the cultivation of land for farming was relatively easier. An increase in the level of non-tree pollen in that period was salient. The Chronicles of the Three States confirm‎s the change in forest landscape in the Korean Peninsula, as records state that during the sixth year of the reign of King Daru of Baekje, a decree was issued to cultivate farmland in counties and districts of the southern region. Seo concluded that the loss of forests is associated with the rise of ancient states. “The cultivation of undeveloped land into farmland would have been accelerated with the ruling class forced into farming.”

The mountainous area in the southern part of Manchuria, where Goguryeo was in the mid-third century, was analyzed to have been rich with forests. This analysis aligns with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms record, which described Goguryeo as being deficient of good farmland and lacking agricultural produce to support people. “The ecological environment of the steep mountainous area would have contributed to the density of forests until a late period,” Seo said.