Less forest means less tree cover, which harms wildlife in North Korea and leads to depletion of topsoil that is unsuitable for agriculture, contributing to the country’s food crisis. Without ground cover, there are no roots to hold the topsoil in place during extreme weather conditions, which is increasingly common in North Korea. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, only 17% of its territory is suitable for agriculture, which is of particular concern given that North Korea produces most of its food rather than to sell it.
Bir Mandal, the FAO deputy representative in North Korea, wrote in an email to E&E News that “the country is mountainous with steep slopes, which in many places are deforested…So when a natural disaster occurs, it has the potential to cause much more [disproportional] shame.”
According to the article published in E&E News“the last decade has brought a succession of floods, droughts, storms and other extreme weather events to North Korea, damaging crops and killing livestock…North Korea’s food supply has plummeted by 9% last year, according to FAO and World Food Program estimates.”
Without an international nuclear agreement, North Korea appears quite isolated in the face of its environmental crisis. As scientists conducted research, the high tensions surrounding nuclear development made it difficult, if not impossible, to fully understand the scale of North Korea’s environmental crisis, let alone begin to address it.