▲ Jeju's remaining Gotjawal areas are renowned as a treasure trove of species. Photo courtesy Gotjawal People
The Gotjawal Trust of Jeju has purchased 34.8 hectares of Sunsan-ri Gotjawal for 21.07 billion won. The woodland in Seongsan-eup is one of the few remaining tracts of Gotjawal in the area and has now been protected from development.
Gotjawal is Jeju’s unique rocky woodland habitat meaning “rocky woodland” in the local dialect. It was once found across large swathes of the island but rapid development has meant that remaining Gotjawal areas are extremely threatened.
The land purchased in Jeju’s southeast, bordered by Jwabomi, Baekyaki and Donggeomi volcanic cones, or oreum, is an essential ecological corridor and is dominated by subtropical tree species such as dogwood, cinnamon and Zelkova. The Trust states that the woodlands will be prioritized for research and conservation. (A new species of microorganism was found this April in an area of Aewol Gotjawal in the northeast.)
The Gotjawal Trust of Jeju was established in 2007 to raise funds for purchasing remaining Gotjawal land. In addition to some local government support, it has received donations from both individuals and businesses, such as cosmetics corporation Innisfree and French drinks producer Pernod Ricard.
Kim Hyo Cheol, the director of Gotjawal People, a grassroots organization connected to the Trust, said in an interview with The Weekly in 2013 that:
“The ultimate goal is nationalization of the gotjawal land - without that we cannot guarantee conservation. This must be the responsibility of the government, as this is not a short-term mission; our work is for the future generations of Jeju,” he said.
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