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The International Olympic Committee and the President of South Korea: Stop the Destruction of the Forest at Mount Gariwang for Pyeongchang 2018

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The International Olympic Committee and the President of South Korea: Stop the Destruction of the Forest at Mount Gariwang for Pyeongchang 2018
  
  

 


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Why this is important to me

To
The International Olympic Committee
Château de Vidy Case postale 356 1001 Lausanne Switzerland Phone +41 21 621 61 11
Fax +41 21 621 62 16

The President of South Korea
1 Cheongwadae-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-820, Republic of Korea

We call on the International Olympic Committee and the President of the Republic of South Korea to stop the planned destruction of the unique virgin forest at Mount Gariwang, which is to be cut down to make way for the Alpine Ski course at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The forest at Mount Gariwang was designated by the South Korean Forestry Service as a ‘Protected Area for Forest Genetic Resource Conservation’. However, when it was needed for the Winter Olympics this protection was removed even though it is the site of the largest plantation of wangsasre trees, a hybrid Aspen-Birch, which is only found on the Korean Peninsula. It is also the home of rare yew trees and possibly the oldest oak in South Korea. Conservationists describe Mount Gariwang as a 'Super-A' class site. Historically Gariwang mountain has a very special meaning for the Korean people. For five centuries from the late 14th century during the Chosun dynasty the mountain was under state protection during which time it was a ‘royal, forbidden mountain’.

The International Olympic Committee claims: One of the fundamental objectives of the Olympic Movement, alongside sport and culture, the environment is the third dimension of Olympism’. Yet it is prepared to sacrifice a site of such ecological significance for a few days skiing. The rules of the International Ski Federation allow for a slightly shorter course under ‘exceptional circumstances’. This is plainly an ‘exceptional circumstance’.

There is just such an alternative course already available at the Yongpyong ski resort which is more accessible and even closer than Mount Gariwang to the main Pyeongchang facilities and is of the length required under the Ski Federation ‘exceptional circumstances’ rule.

When the bid for Pyeongchang2018 was launched environmental groups were told there was no alternative to using Mount Gariwang for the Alpine downhill event. They consider they were deceived and are now refusing to co-operate with the Korean Government’s programme to ‘restore’ the forest after the Games as it cannot bring back to life what has been destroyed and because there is a viable alternative. Environmentalists have seen how the Korean government has failed to abide by earlier promises to ‘restore’ valuable sites, the most shocking and horrifying being the ‘4 Rivers Restoration Project’, which destroyed all the ecosystems in and along four of Korea’s major rivers by building sixteen dams in only three years. The forests on Mount Gariwang are not ‘restorable’ to their original state, because they are a very subtle mixture of tens of different temperate broadleaf and needleleaf trees. The same happened at Sapporo, in Japan, where the Olympics downhill slope was built in the Aihwa National Park. The Japanese government has promised to restore the forest, but after forty years the pure forest of spruces has still not been restored. Final evaluation reports say “it was not a ‘restoration’ but a ‘reforestation’”.

It is both astonishing and outrageous that the International Olympic Committee and the Government of South Korea should even contemplate the destruction of this beautiful and exceptional forest. However, to do so when an alternative exists within the locality is simply beyond our understanding. They are prepared to carry out this act of ecocide for the sake of a few extra metres on a ski slope.

Please support us in calling for an end to the planned destruction of the Mount Gariwang forest and the transfer of this event to the Yongpyong ski resort.


The Committee to Stop the Destruction of Mount Gariwang and Boycott the 2018 Winter Olympics


Posted May 22, 2014
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