▲ The Gotjawal Park opened in Shinpyeong-ri on Friday, July 14. Photo courtesy JDC
Jeju Free International City Development Center, or JDC, opened its Gotjawal Park on Friday, July 24 in Shinpyeong-ri, Daejeong-eup, southwest Jeju Island. The park covers 1.5 million square meters and the JDC invested 5.7 billion won to establish it, with 500,000 square meters rented from the village free of charge.
▲ Walkers can enjoy 6.5km of trails. Photo courtesy JDC
Work began on this park six years ago and it includes 6.5km of trails, rest areas, an information center, observatory, and an ecology school in the old Boseong Elementary School building.
The gotjawal is Jeju woodland thinly rooted atop a volcanic rock shelf, lending the habitat its name which means rocky woodland in the local vernacular. It is found only in a few locations across the island and is seriously threatened by development such as resorts and golf courses.
The woodland provides habitat for both tropical and polar plants, sitting at the distribution limit of each. It is also known as the lungs of Jeju due to its role in cleaning the air of the island and for its “sumgol,” holes in the ground which exude air.
JDC itself has come under fierce criticism from environmental campaigners for its role in the woodland’s plight. Previous projects, such as the nearby Global Education City, destroyed some areas of the same gotjawal forest.
JDC head Kim Han-wook said he hopes the park will make it easier for locals to enjoy the “exquisite ecology of gotjawal, and relieve their stress in nature.”
The Friday ceremony was attended by Jeju governor Won Hee-ryong as will as other local dignitaries. Shinpyeong-ri locals will run a farmers’ market at the park and be responsible for its day-to-day operation.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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