North Korea

51.4% —or about 6,187,000 hectares—of Democratic People's Republic of Korea is forested. Of this, 13.8% —or roughly 852,000 hectares—is classified as primary forest, the most biodiverse form of forest.

Change in Forest Cover: Between 1990 and 2000, Democratic People's Republic of Korea lost an average of 138,000 hectares of forest per year. The amounts to an average annual deforestation rate of 1.68%. Between 2000 and 2005, the rate of forest change increased by 10.5% to 1.86% per annum. In total, between 1990 and 2005, Democratic People's Republic of Korea lost 24.6% of its forest cover, or around 2,014,000 hectares. Democratic People's Republic of Korea lost -277,000 hectares—0—of its primary forest cover during that time. Deforestation rates of primary cover have decreased 24.5% since the close of the 1990s. Measuring the total rate of habitat conversion (defined as change in forest area plus change in woodland area minus net plantation expansion) for the 1990-2005 interval, Democratic People's Republic of Korea lost 24.6% of its forest and woodland habitat.

Biodiversity and Protected Areas: North Korea has some 511 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 3.3% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 6.8% are threatened. North Korea is home to at least 2898 species of vascular plants, of which 3.7% are endemic. 2.6% of North Korea is protected under IUCN categories I-V.


North Korea: Forest Cover, 2005
Total Land Area (ha)12,041,000
Total Forest Area (ha)6,187,000
Percent Forest Cover51.38%
Primary Forest Cover (ha)852,000
Primary Forest, % total forest13.77%
Primary Forest, % total land7.08%
Other wooded land (ha)-

North Korea: Forest types
Tropical (% forest area)0%
Subtropical (% forest area)0%
Temperate (% forest area)100%
Boreal/polar (% forest area)0%

North Korea: Breakdown of forest types, 2005
Primary forest (ha | %)852,00013.8%
Modified natural (ha | %)--
Semi-natural (ha | %)5,335,00086.2%
Production plantation (ha | %)--
Production plantation (ha | %)--

North Korea: Change in Forest Cover
Forest 1990 (ha)8,201,000
Forest 2000 (ha)6,821,000
Forest 2005 (ha)6,187,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(138,000)-1.68%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(126,800)-1.86%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(2,014,000)-24.56%
Change in rate (%)10.47%
Primary 1990 (ha)1,129,000
Primary 2000 (ha)939,000
Primary 2005 (ha)852,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(19,000)-1.68%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(17,400)-1.85%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(277,000)-24.53%
Change in rate (%)10.11%
Other 1990 (ha)-
Other 2000 (ha)-
Other 2005 (ha)-
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)--
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)--
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)--
Change in rate (%)-
Other 1990 (ha)-
Other 2000 (ha)-
Other 2005 (ha)-
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)--
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)--
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)--
Change in rate (%)-
Forest area+Wooded Area-Plantations
Other 1990 (ha)8,201,000
Other 2000 (ha)6,821,000
Other 2005 (ha)6,187,000
Annual Change 1990-2000 (ha | %)(138,000)-1.68%
Annual Change 2000-2005 (ha | %)(126,800)-1.86%
Total Change 1990-2005 (ha | %)(2,014,000)-24.56%
Change in rate (%)10.47%

North Korea: Primary
Primary or "old-growth" vegetation
Primary Forest 2005 (ha)852,000
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)-
Other primary wooded land 2005 (ha)852,000
Undisturbed vegetation 2005 (% land area)7.08%

North Korea: Forest designation
Ownership of forest land, 2000
Public (%)100.0%
Private (%)0.0%
Other (%)0.0%
Ownership of other wooded land, 2000
Public (%)-
Private (%)-
Other (%)-
Designated functions of forest � primary function 2005
Production (%)86.2%
Protection (%)-
Conservation (%)13.8%
Social Services (%)-
Multiple Services (%)-
None of Unknown (%)-

North Korea: Disturbances affecting forest land 2000
Forest Area annually affected by
Fire (%)0.67%
Insects (ha)-
Diseases (ha)-
Other (ha)-

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North Korea: Biodiversity - Plants
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Growing stock composition
3 most common species
% of total growing stock
Number of Native tree species
Native tree species-
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Critically Endangered0
Vascular Plant Species, 2004
Number endemic107
Number of Threatened Plant Species, 2004
Species threatened3

North Korea: Value of forests
Biomass stock in forest, 2005
Above-ground biomass (M t)340
Below-ground biomass (M t)125
Dead wood (M t)68
Total (M t)532
Carbon stock in forest, 2005
Carbon in above-ground biomass (M t)170
Carbon in below-ground biomass (M t)62
Carbon in dead wood (M t)34
Carbon in litter (M t)-
Soil carbon (M t)-
Change in growing stock 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate (1000 cubic m/yr)
Growing stock per hectare 1990 - 2005
Annual change rate ( cubic m/ha per yr)
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (1000 cubic m)1,725
Wood fuel (1000 cubic m)6,967
Total wood removal 2005 (1000 cubic m)8,692
Total wood removal 2005 (% of growing stock)2
Plant products 2005
Food (t)-
Fodder (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Raw material for utensils, handicrafts & construction (t)-
Ornamental plants (t)-
Exudates (t)-
Other plant products (t)-
Animal products 2005
Living animals (units)-
Hides, skins and trophies (units)-
Wild honey and bee-wax (t)-
Bush meat (t)-
Raw material for medicine and aromatic products (t)-
Raw material for colorants and dyes (t)-
Other edible animal products (t)-
Other non-edible animal products (t)-
Value of wood and non-wood forest product removal 2005
Industrial roundwood (US$)$81,525,000
Wood fuel (US$)$32,925,000
Non-wood forest products (US$)-
Total value (US$)$114,450,000
Total value ($USD/ha)$18
Employment in forestry 2000
Total people employed22,000

North Korea: Production, trade and consumption of forest products, 2002
Woodfuel ('000 cubic m), 2002
Industrial roundwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Sawnwood ('000 cubic m), 2002
Wood-based panels ('000 cubic m), 2002
Pulp for paper ('000 metric tons), 2002
Paper and paperboard ('000 metric tons), 2002
North Korea: Environment
Environment - current issueswater pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; waterborne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Natural hazardslate spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall

North Korea: Land use / Resources
Land use (%)arable land: 20.76%
permanent crops: 2.49%
other: 76.75% (2001)
Natural resourcescoal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower

North Korea: Economy
Economy - overview:North Korea, one of the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies, faces desperate economic conditions. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and spare parts shortages. Industrial and power output have declined in parallel. Despite an increased harvest this year due to more stable weather conditions, fertilizer assistance from South Korea, and an extraordinary mobilization of the population to help with agricultural production, the nation has suffered its eleventh year of food shortages due to on-going systemic problems, including a lack of arable land, collective farming practices, and chronic shortages of inputs such as tractors and fuel. Massive international food aid deliveries have allowed the regime to escape mass starvation since 1995, but the population remains the victim of prolonged malnutrition and deteriorating living conditions. Large-scale military spending eats up resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. In 2004, the regime allowed private markets to sell a wider range of goods and permitted private farming on an experimental basis in an effort to boost agricultural output but in October 2005 retracted some of those policies by forbidding the sale of grains in markets. The regime also revitalized its food rationing system in October, an apparent backtrack on earlier reforms. Black market prices have continued to rise, leaving some vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and unemployed, less able to buy goods. As of December 2005, the regime intended to expel all nongovernmental organizations by year-end and tightly restrict the activity of governmental and international organization aid organizations such as the World Food Program. Firm political control remains the Communist government's overriding concern, which will constrain any further loosening of economic regulations.
GDP - per capita$1,800 (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate (%)1% (2005 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; cattle, pigs, pork, eggs
GDP - composition by sector (%)agriculture: 30%, industry: 34%, services: 36% (2002 est.)
Industries military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism
Economic aid - recipientNA; note - approximately 350,000 metric tons, worth approximately $118 million, in food aid through the World Food Program appeal in 2004 plus additional aid from bilateral donors and non-governmental organizations
Debt - external$12 billion (1996 est.)
Population below poverty line (%)NA
Labor force - by occupation (%)agricultural 36%, nonagricultural 64%

North Korea: Population / Demographics
Population (July 2005)22,912,177
Population growth rate (%) (2005)0.90%
Population density (people/sq km) (2005)190.3
Median age (years)total: 31.74 years
Total fertility rate (children born/woman)2.15 (2005 est.)
Ethnic groups (%)racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese

Largest Cities in North Korea

Cities and urban areas in North Korea with population over 100,000 All figures are estimates for 2002.

CityCountryCity PopulationUrban Area Population
PyongyangNorth Korea27247003171800
HamhungNorth Korea821200821200
ChongjinNorth Korea674000674000
NampoNorth Korea655100655100
SinuijuNorth Korea377200377200
WonsanNorth Korea347300347300
PhyongsongNorth Korea315800315800
SariwonNorth Korea294100294100
HaejuNorth Korea265200265200
KanggyeNorth Korea258500258500
KimchaekNorth Korea227300227300
HyesanNorth Korea206000206000
KaesongNorth Korea198400198400
SongnimNorth Korea152700152700

 Environment, Land use / Resources, Economy, Population / Demographics, Infrastructure, Health -- CIA World Factbook, 2005
 Forest Cover, Forest types, Breakdown of forest types, Change in Forest Cover, Primary forests, Forest designation, Disturbances affecting forest land, Value of forests, Production, trade and consumption of forest products -- The FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS's Global Forest Resources Assessment (2005) and the State of the World�s Forests (2005, 2003, 2001)
 Protected Areas, Plant and animal biodiversity -- United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC). 2004. World Database on Protected Areas.
 Biosphere reservers -- United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) - Man and Biosphere Program. 2004. UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory.
 RAMSAR sites -- The Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands . 2005. The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.
 World Resources Institute's EarthTrends web site
 The 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
 Population Data -- United Nations Population Fund
 With additional analysis by Rhett Butler of

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