Troubled by North Korea’s deforestation problem, the nation’s leader, Kim Jong Il, is launching an effort to plant millions of trees. Most of the country’s forests, except those in tourist areas, have been chopped down by people desperate for fuel, and with trees no longer holding soil in place, rain is washing topsoil away and contributing to flooding and the devastation of crops. North Korea has rejected South Korea’s efforts to cooperate on coastline protection and border flood control, despite deadly floods this summer. Still, some observers believe that Kim’s recognition of some of his country’s environmental troubles may open the door for more communication with other nations. The U.N. Development Program is working with North Korea on reforestation efforts, and earlier this year, South Korean activists sent seeds, fertilizer, and greenhouse equipment to the north to help with tree-growing.

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