Economic viability of the national-scale forestation program: The case of success in the Republic of Korea

Lee, J., et al., 2018. Ecosystem Services

Original research (primary data)
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The forests in the Republic of Korea (ROK) successfully recovered through the national forestation program as did the ecosystem services associated with them. With this positive experience, it is instructive to investigate the economic viability of the forestation program. In this study, we estimated the changes in the key ecosystem services (disaster risk reduction (DRR), carbon sequestration, water yield enhancement, and soil erosion control; 1971-2010) and the monetary investment of the forestation (1960-2010) in the ROK, at a national scale. These benefits and costs were estimated by biophysical and monetary approaches, using statistical data from several public organizations, including the Korea Forest Service and the Korea Meteorological Administration, combined with model simulation. All monetary values were converted to the present value in 2010. The net present value and the benefit-cost ratio of the forestation program were 54,316 million $ and 5.84 in 2010, respectively, in the long-term. The break-even point of the extensive investment on the forestation appeared within two decades. In particular, the enhancements of DRR and carbon sequestration were substantial. This economic viability was ensured by the subsidiary implementations (e.g., participation of villagers, shifting energy source, and administrative regulation). Early and extensive investment in forestation is recommended for economic viability and successful implementation of the program. Our study is expected to provide a scientific rationale for implementing forestation program in other countries.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-175-1
  • Intervention type: Created habitats
  • Intervention description:

    national forestation program from the 1960s

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: Yes
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Other climate impact  Positive OTH = DRR (for Mud/Landslids + wild fire + flooding), one composite measure given in monetary terms of avoided damages from all three of these hazards combined
    Soil erosion  Positive Soil erosion – soil loss in ton per hectare
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    specific locations not specified but looks at forests across South Korea

  • Country: South Korea
  • Habitat/Biome type: Created forest |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: Effectiveness determined by quantifying the outcome measures from the intervention and comparing to a modelled control (what would have occurred without the forestation actions)
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: Yes
  • Impacts on GHG: Positive
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: No
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Not reported
  • Ecosystem measures: N/A
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: No
  • Impacts for people: Not reported
  • People measures: N/A
  • Considers economic costs: Yes
  • Economic appraisal conducted: Yes
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: Yes
  • Experimental evalution done: In-situ/field
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Study is systematic: