Biological resources were previously perceived as being collectively owned by humankind, but with national ownership of biological resources acknowledged by the Convention on Biological Diversity, which took effect in 1992, there has been intense international competition to secure sovereign rights over native biological resources. This competition is expected to intensify following the adoption of the “Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization,” an international standard that recognizes national sovereign rights regarding biological resources, at the 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2010. The Nagoya Protocol took effect in October 2014, and Korea is preparing for the new international system on “access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing” (ABS) that will be introduced as a result.

To conserve biological resources, the government formulated the Comprehensive Plan on Biological Resource Conservation and the Wildlife Protection Master Plan in 2005, and the Comprehensive Plan on Propagation and Restoration of Endangered Wildlife in 2006. It formulated the Master Plan on the Conservation, Management, and Utilization of Biological Resources (2011-2020) in 2010. The “Act on the Conservation and Use of Biodiversity” was enacted by the Ministry of Environment in 2012 in order to integrate and systematically implement biodiversity policies that had been dispersed throughout government departments.

In March 2014, the 3rd National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) (2014-2018) was formulated. The key provisions are: (1) Mainstreaming biodiversity in key policies, public awareness, and throughout society; (2) Reinforcing biodiversity conservation by protecting wild animals and their habitats; (3) Reducing threats to biodiversity by managing alien species and reducing the impact of climate change; (4) Increasing biodiversity in agriculture and fisheries, stimulation of eco-tourism, and other sustainable use of ecosystem services; (5) Expanding the National List of Species of Korea and otherwise creating a biodiversity research and management system; and (6) Strengthening international cooperation for biodiversity.

In addition, the National Institute of Biological Resources and National Institute of Ecology were established as professional institutions to secure and manage biological resources, and a comprehensive system for biological resource management is under construction.

Establishment of the National Institute of Biological Resources and National Institute of Ecology

The Ministry of Environment founded the National Institute of Biological Resources in 2007 as a national organization to systematically collect, manage, and study biological specimens of Korean endemic species and native organisms. It is preparing to establish regional biological resource institutions to provide a wide range of opportunities to learn about, hold exhibitions, and otherwise encounter native organisms.

The National Institute of Ecology, which opened in December 2013, is a comprehensive ecological research institution established to predict and study changes to the ecosystem of the Korean Peninsula following climate change, secure and conserve biological species, and educate the public about the environment. Display areas include an ecology experience center (Ecorium) offering an experience of the five major climate zones of the world, and the Korean Peninsula Forest, Marsh Eco Park, and Alpine Eco Park, where visitors can encounter the unique ecosystem of the Korean Peninsula. Research on topics such as long-term changes to the national ecosystem following climate and environmental changes will take place in the research area.

Aerial View of the National Institute of Ecology

Biodiversity Investigation and Management

The Ministry of Environment is building a system to secure and manage endemic biological resources in an organized manner. It has created a database of species information and type specimen information on Korean endemic species and published the Endemic Species of Korea in 2010. Since 2008 it has been working on a project to build the “National List of Species in Korea,” in which native organisms are investigated and recorded in a list; 41,483 species of native organisms have been investigated as of 2013. It is also continuously investigating biological specimens from the Korean Peninsula that are owned by overseas institutions.

The “National Biological Resources Integrated Management System” was established in December 2012 by creating a database of original information on biological resources identified in this manner. The system is being linked to and integrated with other biological resource databases established for agricultural organisms, marine organisms, and other areas. It aims to create a consistent, systematic database of already-discovered native organisms and biological resources that are managed by each government department. It will be linked to genomes and other derived information to boost industrial utilization.

In order to prevent reckless exporting of endemic organisms, including endangered species, it is required to obtain an approval or permit when importing or exporting a total of 3,618 species, including 2,798 species of organisms subject to export approval, 246 species of endangered wildlife, and 574 species of animals subject to import and export permits.

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Last modified : 2017-12-12 08:38

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