The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) opens the way to eco-tourism

Korean Demilitarized Zone
Image by http2007 via Flickr

In 1953, the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was established to provide a buffer between the conflicting Northern and Southern nations–and today it is the most heavily militarized border in the world. But amid this icon of armed standoffs, in the narrow strip that divides the Korean Peninsula where no one is allowed, a highly diverse ecosystem has blossomed. And now, in a rare putting-aside of differences between the two countries squared off along the DMZ, the two Koreas will work together for the preservation of the corridor that has so long divided them.

The Korean DMZ, 155 miles long and roughly 2 miles wide, has been a literal ‘no man’s land’ for 57 years–and that means its been a virtual haven for wildlife. The heavily fortified strip of land is home to some of Korea’s most endangered species, like the Korean Tiger, Asiatic Black bear, and the extreme rare Red-crowned and White-naped cranes.

After years of speculation, today it was announced that after a meeting between cabinet-level agencies in South Korea, that the gem that lies between their two nations would be transformed into an ecological corridor to promote tourism and the preservation of the DMZ’s rich ecosystems.

According to Folha, the project will include a bicycle routes and an observation center within limited sections of the ecological corridor, still heavily guarded on both sides by the North and South Korean military. Further details about the project will be announced in September by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism of South Korea.

The lessons that can be garnered from the situation along Korea’s DMZ are two-fold. On one hand, the fact that two otherwise feuding nations could come together peacefully to ensure the preservation of their shared ecological heritage is encouraging. On the other hand, that the corridor has become so naturally diverse simply because no humans were there to muddle with it speaks wonders to the significance of our presence in other regions of the world.

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