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"Protect Ours for the Future Generations"

The philosophy of the National Trust (NT) is that beautiful natural and cultural heritages should be passed down to the next generations. This goal, however, is often ignored by many Koreans who view natural resources as objects to develop and exploit for financial benefit, which results in reckless development and destruction. This trend, furthermore, has aggravated social, economic and environmental disparities.
In this bitter reality, it is vital to have a new civic environmental movement that can secure a clean and beautiful environment. The NT movement is fit for this job.
The Dongguk Post met Oh, Sung-kyu, the general secretary of the National Trust of Korea, to hear about the NT movement and foreign NT situation...................................Ed. 

Post: People have lately became to know the National Trust (NT) movement through the news about Dong River Munhee village. However, many people still don't know much about it. What is the NT?
Oh: The NT is a new civic, environmental and social movement to protect and preserve natural and cultural heritages, operating with donations and contributions from the public.
The purpose is to ensure permanent protection of natural and cultural heritages, and to supply free and equal access to the whole population.
Also, the NT mobilizes volunteers and raises donations through increased awareness that natural resources and sites are public property.
Protection sites are habitats of endangered animals and plants, sites with scenic beauty, coastal areas and wet lands, parks in cities, green belt areas, and other cultural and historical sites.

Post: We heard the NT came from England. Would you tell us about its origin and development?
Oh: It was founded in 1895 by three Victorian philanthropists - Miss Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Concerned about the impact of uncontrolled development and industrialism, they set up the Trust to act as a guardian for the nation in the acquisition and protection of threatened coastline, countryside and buildings.
More than a century later, England now care for over 248,000 hectares (612,000 acres) of beautiful countryside in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus almost 600 miles of outstanding coastline and more than 200 buildings and gardens of outstanding interest and importance. Most of these properties are held in perpetuity and so their future protection is secure. The vast majority are open for visitors and they are constantly looking at ways in which they can improve public access and on-site facilities.
 
Post: Which countries, except for England, also have similar movements and what about their progress?
Oh: Similar movements are active in 25 countries including Australia, Japan, and America. The NT has taken root as a new civic movement in the world.
The Australian Council of NTs (ACT) is a non-government, non-profit community organization incorporated as a public limited company under the Australian Corporations Law. Membership is open to any individual, family, business or organization. It currently has around 1,700 members in the ACT and surrounding region. This is the highest per capita membership of any State/Territory branch of the National Trust movement in Australia.
The Association of National Trust in Japan has connected small domestic NTs from 1983, and holds a national convention annually. Now, it cares for over 1,800 hectares of countryside.
In America, which has a short NT history nationally, the NT has a variety of preservation initiatives and programs for historic preservation.

Post: What has the Korean NT movement done?
Oh: The Korean NT takes surveys and selects sites that need to be permanently preserved and makes efforts for their actual preservation. To encourage citizens?to voluntary participation in our efforts, we hold the 100 Sites Contest. Also, we assess the management of public and private tracts of land and natural resources, which are the target of our management activities.
In addition, we conduct site inspections and public relations, petition for NT legislation, and encourage environmental education.
We are active in an international alliance, and maintain horizontal cooperation and exchanges with NT movements in 26 countries.

Post: Finally, what would you like to tell those who don't know anything about the movement? 
Oh: We have inherited valuable natural resources and cultural heritage but they cannot be preserved by the government or by a few individuals alone. Now is the time for citizens to come forward. Change has always been entrusted to citizens who have their eyes wide open. They must make new waves to preserve our mountains and rivers, to make a more healthy, and open society that we all can share.
everyone is always welcome. Citizens lead the NT movement. We hope you will join us in preserving our land and beautiful natural environment.?

Kim Young  youngyee@hanmail.net

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