Do you miss nature but feel like you never have time to leave the city? Halla Arboretum may be the answer you are looking for.
Located five minutes from Shin Jeju, and 20 minutes away from Jeju City Hall, Halla Arboretum is a safe haven for nature, and nature lovers, on the edge of a bustling city. The number of visitors to the arboretum sharply increased from 291,000 in 2008 to nearly 2 million in 2011, among which about 70 percent were tourists. And with more companies and schools closed on weekends, Jeju residents also are using the arboretum as a quiet place to while away a lovely day.
The creation of Halla Arboretum was years in the making. On Jan. 14,1986 the Ministry of Environment allocated 14.4 hectares of land for the arboretum, specifically designed to preserve 2,000 of the island’s autogenous species. After almost eight years of preparation and an investment of 2.8 billion won (US$2.4 million), Halla Arboretum opened to the public in December of 1993.
Every Sunday until Aug. 26, Samulnori HanaArt will feature “Korean Traditional Music Concert” at 8 p.m. at Halla Arboretum. The concert is sponsored by the Jeju Culture and Art Foundation. During each concert, HanaArt will also allow amateurs to come up to the stage and show their talents. Entry is free.
The arboretum was founded to serve three main functions. First, is to preserve, proliferate, manage, and display the island’s autogenously plants. Second, is to conduct research. And its third purpose is to provide a restful environment for both Jeju residents and tourists.
Contained within its perimeter is a plethora of themed gardens that span from the expected like the Shrub Garden and the Tree Garden to the less expected Twiner Garden and the Medicinal and Edible Plants Garden. There is also a Bamboo Garden, an Herb Garden, a Flower Garden, as well as the Endemic and Rare Woody Plants Garden along the trail. On top of all that the arboretum showcases an array of Jeju plants that grow from the cusp of Mt. Halla to the shore that dips into the ocean.
Last year, a long-term ecology study was conducted to prepare for the global climate change. Also they are in charge of disease and insect pest control. To further its commitment to preserve the island’s plants, this January saw the arboretum in conjunction with other forest research institutes nationwide, officially opening a public tree hospital. Back in 2000, it was also designated as a preservation center for wild plants by the Ministry of Environment.
In 2012, over 823 million won was allotted for the management of the arboretum, which includes not only facility management, but also research conducted to preserve the variety of the island’s species. The facility is managed by the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Hallasan Research Institute, and funded by the provincial government and the Korea Forest Service.
“We are really happy that approximately 2 million visitors come to the Halla Arboretum annually. However, please keep in mind that this is not just a park. Visitors should learn to appreciate the nature and try to preserve the plants,” Jung-Goon Koh, a member of the Research Institute for Hallasan, told The Weekly.
In May of 2005, the Natural Ecology Experience Exhibition Hall was built to provide visitors with user-friendly information about plants and ecology. It is equipped with an audiovisual room, an auditorium, and small exhibition sections with themes like Natural Library, and Natural World. With an interactive computerized system, it displays not only plant varieties, but also the island’s birds, animals, fish, shellfish, and more. In 2011, an average of 1,300 visitors visited the Natural Ecology Experience Exhibition Hall a day. It is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Since the opening of the Natural Ecology Experience Exhibition Hall, educational programs for students and parents are taught regularly. The program takes students and parents to not only the inside of the arboretum but also to other natural preservation sites like Mt.Halla, Gotjawal, and the island’s wetlands. To better provide education, the arboretum limits the number of sessions it runs a year and the number of participants. Last year, in 20 sessions, 800 students and parents participated. To enroll for one of these classes, an application page can be found on the organization’s Web site.
For more information, visit Sumokwon.go.kr or call 064-710-7575.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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