[K-Wellness] “Garden healing,” nature’s greatest gift

The main gate of the National Arboretum in Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do

The National Arboretum of Korea is a national research institute under the Korea Forest Service that manages Gwangneung Forest, which has been preserved since 1468 when it was designated as the tomb of the 7th king of the Joseon Dynasty. Located in the center of Gwangneung Forest in Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do, it is surrounded by Soribong (536.8m high) in the center, Cheongyongsan (392m) in the south, and Yongamsan (479.6m) in the west.

The themed gardens were completed in 1987. There are 24 gardens, including an ornamental tree garden, a flower garden, and a wetland garden. The 102-hectare garden is home to 3,873 plant species. The Arboretum also houses the Forest Museum, the National Herbarium and Seed Bank, and the Tropical Plant Resources Research Center.

Gwangneung Forest Ecological Observers Combat the Climate Crisis

Concern about climate change is growing globally, and moves to mobilize national capacities to respond to the crisis are taking shape. In response, the Korea Forest Service is paying attention to the role of forests in combating the climate crisis and achieving carbon neutrality.

Since 2009, the arboretum, together with 10 national and public arboretums, has been continuously collecting seasonal observation data on plants in domestic forests. As a result, the National Arboretum of Korea has secured a broad range of seasonal observational data that is important for predicting the impacts of climate change and understanding terrestrial ecosystems. Information that predicts the growing season, such as the flowering date of spring flowers and map of autumn foliage. It also prepares natural habitat conservation strategies through seasonal monitoring of climate-vulnerable species. In addition, through plant collection and breeding research, we are conducting research on restoration models for forest degradation, forest genetic resource reserves, and forest wetland conservation.

Korea National Arboretum Director Choi Young-tae

Korea National Arboretum Director Choi Young-tae

Healing in the garden is nature’s best gift

In 2021, the National Arboretum of Korea announced that continuous and regular gardening benefits the physical and mental health of socially vulnerable groups such as cancer survivors, mental health patients, and people with developmental disabilities and dementia. has been shown to have an effect on The results were published in a well-known academic journal and various media outlets distributed the news. Last year, the botanical garden expanded the range of participants to include sick children, crime victims, and health care workers suffering from “corona blue,” and even measured participants’ biosignals. Improved on all eight of his Korean mental health diagnostic tests (depression, anxiety, vitality, life satisfaction, mindfulness, stress, loneliness) and two biosignals (brain waves and heart rate) was seen.

Gardening has a soothing effect for city dwellers through contact with nature. Forest and agricultural healing programs are usually conducted in suburban areas. On the other hand, the advantage of garden healing is that individuals can participate regularly and regularly as part of their daily lives. It is especially recommended for those who are not good at walking. Gardening activities such as digging and tending trees improve physical fitness and muscle strength. It also helps you build connections with others through collaboration. In addition, nature experiences such as caring for plants and observing animals provide emotional stability.

“I am convinced that social ailments such as national trauma and corona blue can be healed through gardening activities. the director said.

Ensuring sovereignty over wild plants

With the adoption of the Nagoya Protocol in October 2014, securing sovereignty over plant origins became an issue. Sadly, Korean botanical names reflect the painful history of the Korean peninsula. It was more than 100 years after the names of Japan and China that the names of plants became known to the world. Dates from the period of Japanese rule. Moreover, the nature of the scientific name made it difficult to change the name later.

However, common names that everyone can use are different. The arboretum created the “Korean Botanical Name Index” jointly with the Korean Society of Botanical Taxonomy and gave Korean plants English names.

The indicators have given new names to native plants that have foreign names or are widespread, although their main habitat is the Korean Peninsula. In addition, the English pronunciation of the Korean names of plants that are closely related to Korean culture and life, as well as special plants that can only be found in Korea, was shown.

Protecting Rare Plants Needs Government Support

The Arboretum conducts research to conserve rare plant species. Recently, we prepared a symposium to extract synergies from systematic support by government policies. More than 150 people from government agencies, including the Korea Forest Service, and those who study the conservation of nationally-designated protected plants gathered to discuss the direction of policies and systems for efficient conservation.

At the national level, voices stress the need to actively apply existing laws such as the Botanical Garden Creation and Nurturing Law, the Forest Conservation Law, and the Forest Creation and Management Law to formulate and improve policies. There were many. resource law. The Arboretum will hold joint workshops for the conservation of rare plant species and will continue to develop policies while improving systems.

Korea National Arboretum Connects with Local Communities

One of the Arboretum’s main objectives is to protect the Gwangling Forest, a complex ecosystem with high biodiversity, consisting of natural and planted forests. Koryo no Mori partners with local communities through job creation. In order to prevent major forest disasters such as wildfires, diseases, and pests, it is necessary to connect with residents.

But such traditional work is inevitably limited. Gwangneung Forest is the best place for Korean ecological experience, and the arboretum’s social role should be expanded.

“In the future, the important social role of arboretums will be to provide ecological experiences that stimulate the imagination. will fulfill its original function and expand its social role together with local residents.”

Yang Jeong-won (7toy@heraldcorp.com)

Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)

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