In DPRK, mountainous areas topped by temperate forests cover nearly 80 percent of its total territory. Hence, sustainable management of forest resources is important for socio-economic development and livelihood improvement. However, forest areas are decreasing. More than 20 percent of forest land has become degraded. Social and institutional weakness is contributing to this trend. The destruction and degradation of forests and their accompanying biodiversity, and the impact of climate change, are increasing soil erosion and floods and also serving as an increased emission source of greenhouse gases.
The main reasons for forest destruction and degradation include agriculture, excess collection of firewood for energy, damages from pests and fires. The forests of the DPRK abound in valuable medicinal plants and other non-timber resources. Some endangered species such as tiger and leopard are disappearing due to habitat destruction. As a result, the rehabilitation of forests and the realization of sustainable forest management are the primary challenges and a pre-requisite for biodiversity conservation.
Climate change has the potential to cause irreversible damage to the natural resource base on which agriculture depends, with grave consequences for food security. For the DPRK, agriculture remains a vital sector. At the same time, agriculture (and related land-use changes) is one of the most important emitters of global greenhouse gases.
The limited and constrained access to energy services (both modern fuels and electricity) in the DPRK has significantly affected rural and agricultural productivity, as many activities become less efficient or cannot be performed without energy. For example, pumping water for irrigation and access to safe drinking water.
School attendance and access to energy are also intertwined. For example, measures to increase school attendance will be difficult to implement as long as children’s time is consumed with fuel collection. Moreover, improved access to affordable gender and environmentally-friendly energy technologies has the potential to reduce drudgery and illnesses affecting mostly women and children. Without access to reliable and sustainable forms of energy, it is not possible to make significant progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
Investing in energy efficiency creates jobs, fosters economic growth and improves energy security for countries that lack domestic fossil fuel resources. Energy from renewable resources — wind, water, the sun and biomass — is clean and potentially available for use by the local population in DPRK.