By around 6000 B.C., climate in northeast Asia was characterized by frequent and excessive rainfalls, which resulted in the wide spread of deciduous tree species including oak, willow, hornbeam and elm. Later, gradual decline in temperature with reduced precipitation favored conifers. The distribution of pines began around 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C. respectively in the southern and central parts of the country.

Along with climate changes, introduction of agriculture and population growth from 4000 B.C. led to the condition ideal for great dominance of pines. In around 100 B.C. deforestation for creating more croplands was prevalent, and forests were cleared over many centuries to be used as fuel, building materials and firewood until the 13th century. Historical documents recorded quite a lot of pine plantations but only few about broad-leaved tree plantations.

It was not until the Joseon Dynasty that forest plantation and management were systematically implemented. The annals of the Joseon Dynasty documented a number of pine plantations. However, a worrying pace of deforestation continued due to wars and land conversion to cropland. Under Japanese colonization in the early 20th century, forests were excessively overused and devastated, and the total wood harvest approximated 500 million ㎥. The growing stock decreased significantly from 700 million ㎥ to 200 million ㎥ over the colonial period of 1910 to 1945. Besides the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 also caused more degradation of forests as the result of excessive cutting. The devastated forests led to serious social and environmental problems like lack of fuel, severe floods and droughts.

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