[Anchor Lead]The Korea Forest Service is rolling out a pilot program designating Hongcheon in Gangwon-do Province as a special social and economic zone. Efforts are taking shape to foster forests as a place for people to live and work, beyond the common perception of forests as a place of mental healing.[Pkg]New houses are built in thick forests. Roughly 68,000 people have moved from cities to mountainous regions. 34 percent of them settled in Gangwon-do Province. The number increases some 20 percent annually with baby boomers beginning to retire.[Soundbite] Lee Jong-soo(Korea Forest Service) : "We are operating education programs for those who moved to mountainous regions. We are teaching farming techniques in order to help them grow what they want easily."Despite the re-discovery of mountainous areas as sites of human habitation in the future, it is still in its nascent stages to develop mountains into resources and establish a foundation for managing forests. There are limits to cultivating economic forests, when 67 percent of the nation's woods are held privately.[Soundbite] Woo Jong-chun(Gangwon Forest Forum) : "A unified plan should be devised to manage state, public and private forests in an integrated method. And it should serve as a basis for more projects."In order to resolve this problem, the Korea Forest Service kicked off a pilot program in Hongcheon, Gangwon-do Province, designating it a special social and economic zone with plans to boost the economic value of forests by mobilizing experts within an organized system. The forestry agency expects that with new jobs created in the process of forestation and deforestation, effective forest management will ease youth unemployment and help North Korean defectors to settle down in South Korea.
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