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Korean conservation groups join ARC network

February 4, 2016:

Mount Odaesan National Park is home to more than 3,700 species

Following from ARC’s landmark Lambeth meeting of brokers between religions and the environment in November, a new organisation in South Korea has been inspired to undertake an ambitious and exciting Faith and Forestry initiative.

The Research Institute for Spiritual Environment (RISE) was established last year at Korea University in Seoul by landscape architecture expert Professor Sim Woo-Kyung. In addition to training specialists from all over the world on the landscaping and conservation of spiritual environments, the intention is to work with major religions in South Korea and China on environmental projects related to wildlife, forest, sustainable development, values, and youth education.

In October 2016 RISE will join with several South Korean Buddhist organizations to host a major religious forest conference at Woljeongsa Temple in Mt Odaesan National Park, Gangwon Province. This will be one of its first such efforts ever, with the aim of promoting and sharing experiences of sustainable forest management in South Korea and in the world.

RISE was launched around Korean Foundation Day, with a trip to Dangun's altar
Odaesan National Park is home to more than 3,500 species, including wild boar and musk deer, as well as the endangered Iris ocaesanensis wild flower.

According to Prof Sim, the purpose of this conference is first to increase awareness of the cultural and spiritual values of Buddhist-owned or –managed forest, which represents some 1% of the total area of South Korean forest. And second to suggest and enable conservation techniques for religious forestry in the region.

The aim is to sponsor a case study on Mount Odaesan, inside the park, and invite the distinguished experts and scholars to contribute ideas of planning end designing the forest management strategy through ecological, cultural, economic and spiritual aspects.

“This reflects the innovative programme of RISE focusing on the whole sacred landscapes, not just sacred mountains or rivers or valleys, but the whole area,” said ARC’s Martin Palmer.

Martin Palmer visited Prof Sim in South Korea in October 2015 to discuss Buddhism and forestry programme. At Buyongjeong Pavilion
"Professor Sim is probably one of the most significant South Korean figures in this area, because of his work on sacred land over the past 40 years."

Also joining ARC’s network, together with RISE, is the Choi Clan of South Korea. As one of “the largest families in the world”, the Choi Clan boasts two million members. The Grand Master of Choi Clan, Mr. Choi Byung Ju – who also attended Lambeth - will work with ARC and RISE to lead the Choi clan members worldwide to pursue environmentally friendly lifestyles.

Links

News blog on the launch of RISE in October 2015

Ceremony for Korean Foundation Day, when RISE was launched
Lambeth meeting of brokers of religions and environment. Press Release

Lambeth meeting project page with links to speeches and presentations and attendees

Interview with HRH Prince Philip about founding ARC

Background

Professor Sim received his MA and PhD at the Department of Landscape Architecture, Korea University and he is currently teaching at the same university. He worked for Department of Landscape Architecture, Harvard Gradual School of Design as visiting design critic in spring 2004. He has written books on landscape design and garden plants and currently the President of the Traditional Korean Garden Society.

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