Almost all mountains in Hoechang County of South Phyongan Province are rocky with low soil depth.
Patches of land were seen in disarray here and there in the bald, barren mountains in the past. It took years, decades in fact, for the county population to reap benefit from the mountains.
Forests planted in large acreage
The county newly planted over 16 200 hectares of forests in the past 10-odd years.
In recent years alone, it has planted more than six million trees in the mountains every year, which is several times more than the number six years ago.
“Our county has not only produced this much tree seedlings at the parent tree nursery. All the county population have turned out in producing saplings,” said Han Pyong Ik, vice-chairman of the county people’s committee.
The factories and enterprises in the county have set up small tree nurseries of their own to suit their specific conditions and are planting and growing seedlings they cultivated in the forests in charge.
The county recently applied a new tree planting method which enabled it to raise the rooting rate of trees even in severe drought.
In the past the locals stored Changsong larch seedlings grown in seedling beds in underground cellars in winter to plant them in the tree nursery in spring the following year. But now they are transplanting the one-year-old seedlings from the seedling beds to the furrows newly made in the nursery on the spot in autumn without storing them after soaking them in water mixed with the powder of elm tree roots and covering them with humus powder.
After growing them for one more year, they planted the healthy seedlings in the mountains in the third year, with the rate of rooting reaching over 90 percent.
Now the county is introducing an advanced tree sapling production method to increase the rooting rate of trees planted in summer.
It has also taken appropriate measures to prevent forest fire.
In the past it ensured that all the population strictly observe the rule on entering the mountains, while setting up additional forest fire observation posts and sending more personnel for observation.
Hundreds of water pools were built and water tanks recently buried in the dangerous places to mitigate the damage to be caused by forest fire.
In the special forest reserve, cameras were fixed to establish a forest fire monitoring system along with the nationwide forest fire monitoring information service system. And a stone barrier was built along the several-kilometre firebreak and a biological fire prevention forest was planted with Alnus glutinosa and gingko trees which do not catch fire easily.
‘Gold, treasure mountains’ pay off
“With forests growing thicker, factories run at full capacity, consumer goods production increases and they all bring benefits to us,” said Jong Jae Sop, an old man living in Yangchun-ri.
A characteristic feature of afforestation in the county is that timber, oil-bearing tree, wild fruit, pulp and paper raw materials and firewood forests have been planted as mixed ones.
Every year it produces thousands of cubic metres of timber and provides the people with similar amount of firewood.
The county foodstuff factory is making foodstuffs from acorns, wild grapes, fruits of tara vine and others.
It has recently added a production line to increase the production of wild fruit juice.
The county furniture factory produces chests of quilts, cupboards, desks, chairs and other furniture and school fixtures with trees grown in the county.
Laundry soap widely used by the county population is also made from the fruits of Evodia daniellii. The county gathers in dozens of tons of these fruits every year in the Evodia daniellii forests it planted in the mountains.
It also makes dozens of kinds of medicines from wild fruits and medicinal herbs and produces paper by itself.