Green List

Jirisan National Park


First Listed



Why is it Green Listed?

Jirisan National Park was added to the Green List during the Pilot Phase in 2014.

Designated as the first national park in 1967, jirisan spreads across1 city and 4 counties in three-provinces – Hadong, Hamyang, Sancheong of Gyeongnam province, Gurye of jeonnam province, and Namwon of jeonbuk , The total area of jirisan National park is 483.02 km2, which makes it the largest mountainous national park in Korea. The name of Jirisan means “the mountain of the odd and wise people.” Perhaps due to this name, many hermits sought for truth, and devoted themselves at jirisan. Since the ancient times, together with Geumgangsan and hallasan, Jirisan has been known as one of the three legendary mountains in Korea, and a hallowed ground of the nation’s faith.

With 4,989 flora and fauna inhabiting it’s grounds. Jirisan is a treasure chest of nature. Various vegetation from warm-temperate forests and temperate central forests to cold forests populate jirisan. Natural treasures such as the Higan cherry tree at Hwaeomsa(Temple) and the Waun Cheonyeongsong(Millennium Pine Tree) are in Jirisan. Which is also native to Hares, Roes, Elks, Wildcats, and other mammals in its hills.

“As one of the managers of Jirisan National Park, I am proud that it is managed as an IUCN green list, an international standard for the sound management of protected areas.”

KIM, Lim Kyu, Superintendent, Jirisan National Park

Key Achievements


  • The project to restore Asiatic Black Bears in Mt. Jirisan has been implemented successfully (It began in 2004 as the first project to restore species).
  • In 2020, the minimum viable population (MVP) of 50 individuals were achieved (currently, 69 individuals are confirmed).
  • The project to restore damaged areas (man-made damage) results in increase of ecosystem resilience: ecosystems are managed in a stable way after restoration (Seseokpyeongjeon: 3,980m², and Nogodan peak: 1.38ha).
  • Special Protection Zones are expanded within the national park (SPZs (19.89km²) accounts for 40.5% of the entire Jirisan National Park (483km²)).

Good governance

  • To abolish the entrance fee to the Park Cultural Heritage Zone (stretching from Cheoneunsa to Nogodan), an agreement was signed in 2019 between local residents, local governments (Jeollanamdo provincial government and Gurye-gun government), and relevant organizations (Ministry of Environment, Korea National Park Service, Cultural Heritage Administration, Korea Rural Community Corporation, and Cheoneunsa Temple).
  • To manage conflicts between humans and wild animals (Asiatic Black Bears, Wild Boars, Water Deer, etc.), a Coexistence Council was established and various programs are conducted to support victims of wildlife-caused damage (compensation through liability insurance, installation of damage-preventing facilities through the Park Protection Agreement, support of in-kind benefits, etc.)
  • The Cooperation Committee (consisting of the park office, local residents, relevant organizations, civic groups, etc.) has meetings over 6 times a year to share the pending issues of the park management and to discuss the policies direction (58 ideas shared at the committee meeting were reflected to the management policies in 2019).

Community benefits

  • Various programs are fulfilled to improve the settlement conditions of local residents (project to improve village environment, installation of safety equipment, etc.), to increase the income of local residents, to support vulnerable people, and to provide education (safety of living and response to disasters).
  • Since 2009, Citizen University programs have been provided to local residents and citizens in nearby areas, resulting in over 820 graduates. It’s the program to increase the awareness of people on the national park and on the nature protection, and to foster volunteers. As a result, 20-30% of graduates work as volunteers of the national park.
  • The permit is required to collect forestry resources, and the Village of Excellence (Wawoo Village) is operated, supporting the income increase of local residents. 

I am very delighted that three Korea national parks including Odaesan, Seoraksan, and Jirisan have been relisted in the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas (IUCN Green List). In the decision of CBD COP 13(CBD COP XIII/2), the IUCN Green List was promoted as a voluntary standard for protected area management effectiveness. KNPS has participated in the IUCN Green List since 2012 and accumulated our experiences in listing Korea national parks to the IUCN Green List. Recently, there has been a lot of interest from Asian region about the IUCN Green List and KNPS is ready to share our experiences and knowledge with global communities. Managing protected areas effectively will be important in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. I believe that the IUCN Green List will play a crucial role in post-2020 period. KNPS will strengthen collaboration with IUCN in encouraging the effective management of protected areas through IUCN Green List.

Mr Hyung-Kun Song, Chairman of Korea National Park Service (KNPS)

Site Attributes



IUCN Category
II - National Park

Year Established

Marine Protected Area

Governance Type
Federal or national ministry or agency

Site Agency
Korea National Park Service

Site Manager
Seon-du KIM

EAGL Evaluation

GL Committee Submission

EAGL Chair
Jong Geel Je

ASI Reviewer
Matthiew Durnin

Site Summary

The Jirisan National Park, a first of its kind in Korea, was designated on Dec. 29th, 1967. The mountain straddles 16 eups/myeons (they are similar to townships and towns according to the Korean administrative categories), 4 counties (Hamyang-gun, Sancheong-gun, Hadong-gun and Gurye-gun), and 1 city (Namwon city), encompassing 3 provinces (Gyeongnam province, Jeonnam province and Jeonbuk porivnce). Settled in the area of 483.022㎢, it is the largest mountainous national park in Korea. Like Mt. Geumgangsan and Mt. Hallasan, the mountain has been admired by the public as paramount because it is a holy birthplace of ethnic Korean religions. 20 peaks (higher than1,500m) are rising surrounded by the unfolded screen of 3 highest peaks (the Cheonwangbong peak (1,915m), Banyabong peak and Nogodan peak). The mountain also shows off i) various large and small ridges extending north/westward from the main ridge and ii) magnificent valleys like the Daesungggol valley, the Daewonsa-gyegok valley, the Jangdang-gyegok valley, the Hanshin-gyegok valley, and the Cilsun-gyegok valley.

Particularly, the Wangdeungjae wetland (the only alkaline high mountain swamp in South Korea) is of great ecological significance. Additionally, the Seseokpyeongyeon (a gravel flat ground) possesses great academic and conservation values since rare species of sub-alpine flora thrive there. Boasting the magnificent and cozy sceneries, the Jirisan mountain works as ‘the Roof of the Gyeongsang and Jeolla provinces’, laying the foundation for the livelihood of local residents. Additionally, it has historical and cultural resources rich enough to be recognized as the mountain of life.

1. Natural Values
1. 69 Asiatic Black Bears live across Mt. Jirisan thanks to the project to restore endangered species which began in 2014. Unmanned sensor cameras are used to track their movement and locations and to monitor their growth. Their habitats are designated and managed as Special Protection Zones. 2. In the past, concentration of visitors and indiscriminate use created a number of damaged sites, so efforts have been made to restore them to the original conditions. For example, Nogodan peak and Seseokpyeongjeon were restored from 1995 to 2000, and then regular monitoring and follow-up measures are taken annually to manage the areas. 3. Major habitats of important species in Mt. Jirisan are designated as Special Protection Zones (total 21 SPZs: 195.89km²) Depending on the type of designation, the species is monitored annually to analyze the increase, maintenance, and decrease of its population, and to decide management directions and follow-up studies. A separate probe is being carried out in areas where continuous reduction is made.
1. By 2020, the park office aims to achieve the MVP of Asiatic Black Bears (50 individuals) and to lay the foundations for the park to provide regulation services of ecosystems by promoting natural births of bears and restoring their habitats, so that the bears can live harmonized with other species. 2. The park office aims to restore the damaged sites to original nature which can be harmonized with surrounding areas by identifying the reasons and severity of damage and utilizing environmentally-friendly restoration techniques (transplant re-vegetation measures, etc.), and to maintain stable situations after restoration. 3. KNPS (HQ) aims to expand Special Protection Zones up to 5% of entire national parks (as of 2020, it stands at 4.7%) by 2023. The Jirisan National Park has designated and managed SPZs which account for 40.5% of the total park area (195.89km²) for the purpose of restoration of endangered species and conservation of subalpine ecosystems.
1. Based on the research findings before the restoration project of Asiatic Black Bears, the park office set the target at 50 individuals as MVP. The target is already achieved (currently 69 bears are confirmed), so the park office is planning to 2nd Restoration and Conservation Plan. 2. The photos and videos were taken before and after the restoration of damaged site (caused by camps, compaction at the top of mountain, etc.), showing clear differences of landscapes. As healthy ecosystems are restored, vegetation coverage is stabilized and species diversity is increased including endangered species.  3. Special Protection Zones (21 SPZs within the Jirisan National Park) are monitored and managed based on the designation type (animal, plant, wetland, and valley) and purpose (protection facilities). Strict entrance restriction and prohibition of resources collection are conducive to managing the stability of species populations and ecosystems.
1. Form the restoration project in 2004 to now, 69 bears live across the mountain through natural birth and natural introduction. Third generation was born in a nature, requiring the park office to conduct various conservation activities including habitat management and operation of Coexistence Council. 2. The restoration of damaged sites were evaluated in 2016, demonstrating natural succession and stabilization after the restoration (vegetation coverage of Nogoda peak: 80% and vegetation coverage of Seseokpyeongjeon: 95%). In particular, insects diversity led by vegetation development was 21% higher than control sites, and small-sized mammals diversity was 39% higher. It’s interpreted as the success of restoration projects. 3. Ecosystems of SPZs have high bio-diversity and are well conserved as a whole. Protection facilities are installed and various equipment (i.e. drone, etc.) are utilized for continuous management to maintain the ecosystem stability.
2. Ecosystem Service Values
1. As threats to biodiversity is increasing due to introduction of invasive species, the park office makes efforts to remove invasive species and conduct biological control. Study sites are continuously researched and monitored to analyze if biological regulation services function well , if habitats change, and if management effectiveness is achieved. 2. Aviation monitoring data are analyzed to identify the key reasons (rainfall, snowfall, spring drought, etc.) of death of subalpine conifers (Abies koreana, Picea jezoensis, etc.), showing the dead trees increases by 3.7 times for the last decade. Additionally basic monitoring is continuously implemented.
1. To eliminate invasive species completely, efforts are poured to remove threat factors to native ecosystems of the national park by focally controlling foreign species introduced naturally or artificially to the national park, and to conduct biological control by securing and proliferating genetic resources of native plants and managing foreign species. Foreign species: 48 species Ecosystem-disturbing species: 18 species (plants: 13 / animals: 5). Foreign plants with management priority: 29 species Animals adapting to the wild: 5 species 2. To explore the change of subalpine conifers (Abies koreana, etc.) vulnerable to climate change, to identify the cause of population reduction, and to develop protection measures, the park office aims to secure monitoring data for at least 30 years (it began in 2010, covering 15 investigation sites throughout Mt. Jirisan).
1. Every year, the park office roots out ecosystem-disturbing plants (Ambrosia artemisiifolia and Rumex acetosella) and foreign plants with management priority (Phytolacca decandra) and proliferates genetic resources secured within the Jirisan National Park to conduct biological control, for the purpose of restoring ecosystem healthiness. ※ Removal and biological control of foreign plants in 2019 - Removal of foreign plants: 38,278㎡ - Biological control (transplant of native species): 5,710㎡ 2. The analysis of monitoring data (avian image, etc.) shows the population of dead trees increase about 3.7 times for the last decade. The projects are under progress to increase the population for in-situ and ex-situ conservation, and to restore pilot sites.
1. The Ecosystem Health Index of the Jirisan National Park is ranked as Grade 4 (Healthy) for its excellent healthiness through removal of foreign species, biological control, and continuous management efforts. It aims to be Grade 5 (very healthy) by 2020. Especially, the park office strives to remove foreign species and increase people’s awareness on foreign species through participatory activities. It also diversifies and proliferates genetic resources of native plants for biological control and restoration of damaged sites. 2. The park office makes efforts to develop desirable policies to conserve subalpine conifers (park resources) most vulnerable to climate change (one of global issues), to delay the speed of natural changes, and to make ex-situ conservation. In short, the park office does its best to manage biological resources within the Jirisan National Park.
3. Cultural Values
1. By utilizing the ‘Cultural and Historic Resources Compilation of National Parks’ published in 2009 as the basic data, the park office established ‘a cultural and historic research team’ in 2017, and then take regular monitoring of designated and non-designated cultural heritages scattered in Mt. Jirisan (numbers, conservation conditions, nearby environment, etc.), and discover new cultural resources at full swing. In particular, the park office published the report of the cultural and historic research team in 2019 based on the research results from 2017 to 2019. 2. Every year, over 3 million visit the Jirisan National Park to appreciate its outstanding natural landscapes and ecological excellence. Every month, visitor number is monitored by each district, and the survey on visitors’ satisfaction (programs and facilities, etc.), and education and activities to increase the awareness of people on the national parks are implemented.
1. The park office aims to conserve cultural and historic resources and to discover new cultural resources through systematic research on cultural resources, and expansion and advancement of monitoring. Furthermore, the office tries to identify the values of cultural and historic resources, with a view to increasing cultural values of Mt. Jirisan and to sustainable use for next generation. 2. The park office aims to conserve ecological values of the Jirisan National Park and to deliver the various benefits of nature to people in a sustainable way. The park office - Meets the standard of visitor service programs and facility safety, and complies with reasonable standards for environmental sustainability. - Satisfies various demands of visitors. - Takes cares of the socially-disadvantaged.
1. As of 2020, 84 designated cultural heritages and 221 non-designated cultural assets were found in the Jirisan National Park, while 46 legends and stories were also investigated. Regular monitoring is conducted to prevent damage and destruction of historical and cultural resources. In particular, signboards are installed to display the locations of non-designated cultural assets and to manage them effectively (currently 25 boards are installed). They are maintained in good conditions through continuous management. 2. Various efforts are being made to develop and operate visitor programs for increase of visitor satisfaction, and to manage disaster for visitor safety. In addition, for sustainable use of the national park resources, a reservation system is operated (Chilseon valley, Nogodan peak, etc.) to make the balance of conservation and use.
1. Cultural resources scattered throughout Mt. Jirisan are maintained in good condition through steady management efforts. The study scope, which was mainly limited to tangible cultural heritages, is expanding to cover intangible cultural heritages, and to link with humanities values (i.e. the Jirisan Humanities Academic Symposium was held in 2017). In addition, based on historic literatures, legends, and traditions, the park office strives to discover new cultural resources. 2. To promote the awareness of visitors on nature protection, eradicate illegal activities, and enhance the satisfaction level of park use, the education and outreach activities are continuously conducted, achieving more than 90% of satisfaction level of visitors. To encourage visitors to enjoy lower areas, not conquering the summit of the mountain, the park office strives to install more infrastructures and to develop various visitor programs. The park office makes efforts to expand facilities such as barrier-free trails and develop/operate visitor programs, with a view to giving opportunities to the socially disadvantaged who can enjoy the national park.

Conservation Summary

Outcome of EAGL Vote on Site

EAGL Summary 
Jirisan National Park was designated as a first national park of Korea in 1967 and has been actively managed to maintain its ecological integrity. In particular, the park is located at the core of the Baekdudaegan Ecological Corridor, a key ecological corridor of Korea. The reduction of commercial facilities and environment-friendly readjustment, which were created to improve mass tourist attractions in the past, are also actively underway. This park is the first area in Korea that has carried out a large-scale oil restoration project since 2004, and is conducting systematic management for restoration and stable formatting of Asiatic black bears. This park was already listed in the IUCN GL in 2014 after verifying systematic management. Currently, 310 employees in the three offices are actively managing the ecological functions of the protected areas. Park rangers uploaded more than 100 reports and documents for GL. Through the review of the data, on-site interviews and conversations with stakeholders, we have confirmed that Jirisan National Park meets all 50 detailed criteria for GL. This park has been an area of prolonged friction with Buddhist temples, a traditional religion, since its designation as a national park. Even though the government implemented a policy to abolish admission fees for all national parks in 2007, the temple has been charged on the road for penetrating private land. It was unreasonable, but it was an area where the controversy continued without correcting the conflict between the government and the temple. The recent settlement of the admission fee issue, which seemed unlikely to be resolved after a long conversation, was a notable achievement. As a result of this problem’s resolution, it is believed that the temple, which has protected Jirisan Mountain for the next 1,500 years, will continue to have a more friendly relationship. However, development pressure around the park is increasing due to the recent economic slowdown in the region and the decrease in tourism revenue. So requires active management and attention so that the ecosystem can be maintained intact.

Reviewer Summary 
Committee should in future submit site visit plans to reviewer much earlier. In this case site visit plan was not reviewed prior to site visits by reviewer however site visit plans were approved post visit.

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