Monday, January 09, 2006

Naksan Got a Shave

I am now working in Hoengseong, about two hours from Sokcho. I went home for the weekend and had an incredible sense of disorientation. I was reading a book on the bus and when I looked up, I saw unfamiliar treeless slopes but I knew I was near Sokcho; what had happened? When I finally saw a stretch of shoreline I recognized, I realized all the dead trees (basically all trees) from Naksan had been cut down.

Visually, it's possible that the Kwaneum Buddha at Naksansa may be visible from Sokcho. Certainly it is from a few km down the road now.

I understand why the trees were removed. After being damaged in the fire, many sprouted green needles from upper branches but they didn't last through the summer. I suspect the cambium, the living layer just under the bark) had been cooked so no water or nutrients from the roots could reach the needles.

Pine trees are normally pretty flammable. Why, I remember when no less a scientist than McGyver used pine sap to make a bomb; that's how flammable pine trees are. Trees that have dried for eight months, combined with Korea's dry winters means that the mountain might have been more at risk than even before the fire.

Still, it looks odd. Arbour day is a long way away but I hope that Yangyang will be looking for volunteers to plant. I will sign up and I will post information here should anyone else be interested.

I guess the roots are still in the ground and I think they can continue to slow erosion until new trees take hold. Otherwise, Naksansa visitors had better look exclusively to the East to have views that won't make them cry.

(Again, I saw the mountain from a bus. I will try to visit next weekend to take some photos.)