Parks and Green infrastructure

- 6:46 pm - July 23rd, 2015

Why should Korea be a good place for green infrastructure?  Answer:  there are so many Parks (a lot of Kims and Lee people too)…Apologies for the awful pun, but the serious point is a Korean friend actually suggested to me that there are two options to maximise green infrastructure in a town or city:

  1. Provide green infrastructure as a routine town planning and built environment activity

  2. Have a large percentage of the city as a public park or green space.

Option (a) seems the only genuine way forward, although obviously protecting existing natural ‘greenscapes’ is surely desirable and a laudable achievement, in many situations in Korea and elsewhere.  On a visit to South Korea in spring this year it was wonderful to see the cherry blossom in full bloom and golden swathes of Forsythia too, in parts of the country’s megacity, Seoul.  Literally a stroll from a hotel in the north of Seoul, is Bukhansan National Park, where pine clad mountains rise above the city, and in April there’s an understory of flowering shrubs and a variety of wild flowers along the edges of the small watercourses draining the mountains.  As dawn approached deer barked from cover in the forest, and as the sun rose and broke through the cloud to spill sunlight over the bare rock of the mountain summit, a local Tarzan impersonator added his voice to the bird-song (I could have done without the human bit).

That pattern of a city wrapped around a mountain has been replicated in Sejong City, the new administrative capital of the country.  Several years ago when I visited, I was excited to learn of the plans to make it the greenest city in the world, using LID techniques everywhere.  In April 2015, much of the city had been built.  My visit was brief this time, and little in the way of multi-purpose green infrastructure (e.g. LID or SUDS features) was immediately evident, so I asked about green infrastructure, and was told by a local official of the above choice of options….

Hopefully a follow-up visit will allow a more in-depth answer to green infrastructure curiosity. In the interim, we’d be pleased to hear from other visitors with insights into practices and achievements creating multi-purpose green infrastructure in Korea, and other countries of course too.

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Bukhansan National Park, Seoul, Korea, April 2015 (all photos BJ D’Arcy).