English II

Major Plant Communities


The actual vegetation map illustrates the spatial distribution of vegetation and provides baseline data for better management and proper usage of the natural environment. The National Natural Environmental Survey analyzed the status of the vegetation distribution, including all natural and planted forests. The National Institute of Ecolo- gy produced the actual vegetation map based on

recent satellite images from the second and third National Natural Environmental Survey and re- sults of previous actual vegetation maps, forest type maps, and degree of ecological naturalness.

In 2012, 42% of the total land area of South Korea was covered by forests, with 37% consist- ing of broadleaf forest, 33% of coniferous forest, and 29% of mixed forest. Analysis of the vege-

tation distribution data of the National Natural Environmental Survey (2012) indicates that the Korean red pine (Pinus densiflora) community covers the largest area (26.6%) followed by the Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica) community (18.9%), Korean red pine (Pinus densi ora)-Ori- ental cork oak (Quercus variabilis) community (6.3%), Oriental cork oak (Quercus variabilis 

community (5.7%), black pine (Pinus thunbergii) community (5.4%), and Korean red pine (Pinus densi ora)-Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica) community (5.2%).

The Korean red pine community is the most common and representative forest type that can be found from Jejudo to Hamgyeongbuk-do. Traditionally Korean red pine forests have been 

protected and managed. Thus, they are broadly distributed throughout the whole country. Howev- er, the forests were severely damaged due to resin and wood collection during the Japanese colonial period. After 1970, pine forests had to be cut because of the rampant spread of pine leaf gall midge or Thecodiplosis japonensis and natural

succession of broadleaf trees such as Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica), which made Korean red pine (Pinus densiflora) dominant areas even smaller.

Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica), which belongs to the family Fagaceae, is a deciduous broadleaf tree growing at high altitude. It is dis- 

tributed in the middle and southern parts of the country. South Korean forests are typically char- acterized by Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica) communities. The species even covers 33.5% of the Baekdudaegan area. Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica) is also a characteristic species of the boreal and temperate broadleaf forests of central 

Korea. It is known to have covered the southern lowlands 17,000 – 15,000 years ago, the central area (including the highlands) 10,000 – 4,500 years ago, and almost the entire country (exclud- ing the Gaemagowon and Baekdusan) for the past 4,500 years.