Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 137–147 | Cite as

Politics of forest fragmentation: a multiscale analysis on the change in the structure of forest landscape in the North and South Korean border region

  • Chan Yong Sung
  • Cheon-Bo ParkEmail author
  • Jong-Sub Kim
Original Article


In this paper, we examine the changes in forest structures in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and surrounding areas with different civilian access restrictions in the North and South Korean border region during a 23-year study period from 1992 to 2015 (four to six decades after the end of the Korean War). Forest maps were derived from Landsat images, and forest structures were assessed at multiple spatial scales using lacunarity analysis. The results show that the forest structures changed over the 23-year study period, but the directions of change varied according to the degrees of access restriction. Strict access restriction to the DMZ mitigated small-scale forest fragmentation because forests were regenerated on abandoned farmlands. In spite of the small-scale forest regeneration, infrastructure development associated with the economic cooperation between North and South Koreas in the 2000s aggravated large-scale forest fragmentation in the DMZ. Forest fragmentation was even more serious in the surrounding areas where civilian access is allowed because of farmland and suburban developments. These findings reveal the need to adopt a land use regulation system, such as transboundary protected areas, in the North and South Korean border region, to prevent deforestation under the present divided condition as well as under the one after Korean reunification.


Korean demilitarized zone Lacunarity analysis Forest regeneration Transboundary protected area Support vector machine 



This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (grant number: 2017R1D1A1B03030002).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Urban EngineeringHanbat National UniversityDaejeonRepublic of Korea

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