for Children

Environmental Challenges: A Geographic Perspective


 Korea currently faces many environmental challenges. Some problems, such as pollution, are caused by human activities while other problems, such as earthquakes, occur naturally. Many environmental issues are complex, involving both human and natural factors. And the problems occur over many different scales: local, regional, and global. The study of Geography offers a useful way to understand these problems. Geographers examine where things are located across the landscape—heir spatial distribution—using maps, air photos, or satellite imagery. And geographers study many different factors, such as human activities, ecology, or weather patterns for example, and how these factors interact.

  The map below summarizes several regional environmental issues affecting the countries of northeast Asia. Some issues extend across national boundaries, affecting more than one country. Pollution can be spread far from its source by winds, rivers, and ocean currents. For example, wind picks up yellow dust from the Gobi Desert and loess plateau in China. The dust-laden wind becomes increasingly polluted as it passes over industrial areas in eastern China. The winds then cross the Yellow Sea and worsen air quality in Korea. Korea’ geographic position also puts it within the path of many typhoons, which bring destructive wind, waves, storm surge, and rain. The proximity of tectonic plate boundaries along the Pacific Rim increase the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis.

  South Korea has worked to develop sustainable solutions to many of these problems, both internally within its borders and internationally through agreements and partnerships with other countries. The Korean government supports research agencies, implements regulatory policies, and establishes protected conservation areas in response to environmental concerns. Civic environmental groups such as the Korea Institute of Pollution Research and the Antipollution Civic Movement Council also work to combat environmental degradation. Individual volunteers also
help to restore and protect Korea’ beautiful natural environment.


 Korean scientists actively monitor various natural and human systems nationwide. The collected data are used to assess the health of plant and animal communities and to identify areas that most need protection, as shown in the map here. In Grade 1 areas, construction and development are heavily restricted in order to preserve the natural environment. In Grade 2 areas, development is allowed, but with some measures in place to limit environmental impacts. In Grade 3 areas, development and other activities are permitted with fewer regulations. The final category of ‘pecial Management Areas’are under the highest degree of protection and include parks, wildlife conservation areas, and nature preserves. Maps of land protection categories such as the one shown here, are used to support planning work by government and community leaders, developers, consultants, and environmental scientists.