North Korea's forests have a variety of trees and other plant life. Predominant trees include larch, poplar, oak, alder, pine, spruce, and fir. In the early 1990s, approximately 80 percent of the total area of the country, or 9.4 million hectares, was made up of forests and woodlands; over 70 percent of these reserves were in the mountainous Hamgyng provinces, and in Yanggang and Chagang provinces. Much of this area was severely damaged by overcutting during the last years of Japanese colonial rule and by the effects of the Korean War. The government has promoted afforestation projects to make up for these losses, and during the First Seven-Year Plan an estimated 914,000 hectares were planted, with an average of 2,900 trees per hectare. In the early 1970s, however, the rate of afforestation dropped to about 10,000 hectares per year.
Timber production was estimated at 600,000 cubic meters in 1977, basically unchanged since the late 1960s. In 1987, however, timber production was estimated at 3 million cubic meters. The amount of fuelwood available for rural households increased by 11 percent from 1970 to 1977, when approximately 4.6 million cubic meters were used for heating.
The Ministry of Forestry was established in 1980 to oversee the development of the forestry industry. The ministry sent agents to the county level to manage the rotation of harvest and replanting. Since the 1980s, almost no official quantitative information on forestry has been forthcoming. The government failed to mention the performance of the forestry sector in its report on the fulfillment of the Second Seven-Year Plan, and the Third Seven-Year Plan does not even contain any reference to forestry.
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