The argument over the Pyeongchang2018 downhill course at Mount Gariwang continues. Recently green activists noticed that the authorities were starting to cut down trees on the mountain. The coalition of South Korean environment groups arguing with the government over the so-called restoration programme immediately protested pointing out that no agreement had yet been reached over this restoration programme. No work on the mountain is allowed to begin until this programme is agreed and the environmental coalition has so far rejected the Government's proposals for restoring the forest after the Olympics. The Department of the Environment then intervened to stop the work.
In a petition launched on Avaaz calling on the International Olympic Committee and the South Korean Government to prevent the destruction of the forest Mount Gariwang is described as:
The site of the largest plantation of wangsasre trees, a hybrid Aspen-Birch, which is only found on the Korean Peninsula. It is also the home of rare yew trees and possibly the oldest oak in South Korea. Conservationists describe Mount Gariwang as a 'Super-A' class site. Historically Gariwang mountain has a very special meaning for the Korean people. For five centuries from the late 14th century during the Chosun dynasty the mountain was under state protection during which time it was a ‘royal, forbidden mountain’.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sun, 31/08/2014 - 17:14.
Oh what a lovely Legacy! The media are long gone but the scandalous treatment of the Manor Gardens Allotments Society (MGS) at the hands of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA), Waltham Forest Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation LLDC) continues.
As part of the deal stitched together to prevent the MGS’s return to the Queen Elizabeth Aftermath Olympic Park (QEOP) at Eton Manor following their temporary relocation to Marsh Lane Fields, now ludicrously named The Jubilee Park, a Section 106 agreement had to be drawn up by the three conspiring ‘authorities’. The purpose of this was to provide plots at the now permanent allotment site at Marsh Lane in lieu of those no longer to be provided at Eton Manor and to divide up the costs of creating a meadow in their place at Eton Manor.
The LVRPA voted this agreement through without telling anyone, including the MGS, in May of this year. The text of the document presented to the Executive Committee states:
It is understood some kind of ‘understanding’ was reached between the London Development Agency (LDA) and the MGS in 2007 to ensure that following the Games the MGS would return to a site allocated for allotments somewhere on QEOP’.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 09/07/2014 - 12:44.
When South Korea launched its bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics it was claimed Mount Gariwang was the only possible site for the downhill competition. However, a coalition of environmental groups, the Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain, has recently discovered the Rules of the International Ski Federation (FIS-Ski) allow for a shorter track, under ‘exceptional circumstances’. In a letter to the FIS-Ski, see below, the Joint Committee asks for clarification of the rule and why this was not made known at the time.
These South Korean environmental groups consider they were misled when the Bid for Pyeongchang2018 was put forward and point out there is a viable alternative at a neighbouring ski resort at Yongpyong. They are now refusing to co-operate with the ‘recovery’ programme for the forest. The South Korean Olympic authorities have only just carried out an environmental assessment of the forest, which is laughable in itself given that this forest had been designated by the South Korean Forestry Service as site for the 'Protection of flora genes and forest Eco-systems'. The designation was changed when Pyeongchang was chosen to host the Winter Olympics to allow the site to be destroyed for the downhill event.
Whatever the alternatives, the proposal to cut down this virgin forest, home to the largest plantation of Wangsasure trees, a hybrid Aspen unique to the Korean peninsular, made a mockery of the IOC’s claim that the environment is its ‘third dimension’. It was always an outrage to sacrifice a forest of this quality for a few days of skiing.
Letter to the FIS
Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain
71-16 Yulseok-ri, Wabue-eup, Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea
International Ski Federation
Blochstrasse 2; CH- 3653 Oberhofen / Thunersee
3rd April, 2014
To whom it may concern:
We, Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain, is an umbrella group comprised of nature-protection civil organizations in Korea.
We have made efforts to prevent Korean government’s decision to build an Alpine downhill ski competition complex in one and only, the largest, the oldest and most diverse, taxus cuspidate habitat in Korea – Gariwang Mountain lying in both Jeongsun and Pyeongchang counties – from being fully realized. As you can see on the map below, the expected slope-construction site includes a vast area of Gariwang Mountain, which has long been designated by the State as ‘Protected Area for Forest Genetic Resource Conservation (the red circle)’.
But when the 2018 Winter Olympics was decided to be held in Pyeongchang in 2011, the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) completely ignored this most important fact and hurried into vote with the lawless, absolutely unforgivable ‘promise’ to build a new Alpine downhill ski competition venue in this very Gariwang Mountain.
We recently found out from your official website, particularly from the “particular rules for the different events” in “The International Ski Competition Rules (ICR) – Book IV Joint Regulations for Alpine Skiing”(web edition, July 2013), that in case of downhill competitions, the vertical drop of men’s courses for Olympic Winter Games is regulated from 800m to 1100m, and in exceptional cases, 750m (p.80).
We would like to receive your confirmation about this information. Is this correct? Does this mean that it would be alright to have the competitions unless the ski slope (the difference between the highest and the lowest points) go shorter than 750m?
If this is true, then it means a lot to us. Then it means that Gariwang Mountain is NOT the only available candidate for a new Alpine downhill ski competitions venue. Then it means we actually have many other pre-existing options around Pyongchang area, including the FIS-certified Yongpyong Ski Resort. Then it means that Mr. president of POCOG, Kim, Jinseon, ‘fooled’ the entire country claiming as if there was no other alternative than Gariwang Mountain for the new slope venue, as if we needed a new venue.
Upon receiving your confirmation, we are scheduled to organize our side’s actions to stop this monstrous ‘project’ being pushed forward not only by Gangwon Province and Korean government (that recently nudged Korea Forest Service to ‘lift’ Gariwang Mountain off the protection list), but also by POCOG and IOC, whether the latter has known about this or not.
Looking forward your swift reply,
On behalf of the
Joint Committee for Stopping the Destruction of Gariwang Mountain
About why Gariwang Mountain MUST BE PROTECTED no matter what
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 30/04/2014 - 14:11.
This article has been modified on receipt of further information.
London's failed Olympic Legacy creates strange bedfellows. It seems London2012's scandalous allotments' legacy, which has been totally ignored up to now by politicians and journalists, has scandalised former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, who has weighed in accusing the London Legacy Development Corporation and the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority of breaking the promise made to the Manor Gardens Allotment Society.
In a letter dated 25th March 2014 sent to Dennis Hone, CEO of the LLDC, and copied to Shaun Dawson, CEO of the LVRPA, Martin Esom, CEO of Waltham Forest Council, and Phillip Lewis, Chair of the LLDC Planning Committee, she points out that the Manor Gardens Society 'co-operated' with London2012 following 'assurances' that 're-provision would be made within the Olympic Park'. This had resulted in a decision to create two sites at 'Eton Manor and the southern areas of the park'. However, the decision by the LLDC on 25th February 2014 to agree an application by Waltham Forest, supported by the LVRPA, to create 'community landscaping' in place of the allotments at Eton Manor means:
'the MSG members have had the commitment to them broken. It was the responsibility of the planning committee to ensure that the promise made is met.'
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Thu, 27/03/2014 - 13:04.
At least some people know what really matters. Amidst all the controversy over LGBT right
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Tue, 11/02/2014 - 14:26.
At 7.20am on Saturday 1 February I received an automated phone call, at home in Lower Clapton in Hackney, from the Environment Agency warning me about the high risk of flooding from the River Lee. At the same time I received this email from them:
Submitted by Martin Slavin on Sun, 02/02/2014 - 14:44.
Kijun Kim started a one man demonstration on 20th January 2014 in the centre of Seoul to protest against the destruction of the unique forest habitat at Mount Kariwang for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018. Little attention has been paid in the media, both national and international, to the environmental destruction which is about to be perpetrated at Pyeongchang. He plans to continue his demonstration for one hundred days. His placard says:
'Mount Kariwan, the best virgin forest in South Korea will be destroyed by the construction of a ski slope for the Winter Olympics'
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Wed, 22/01/2014 - 13:48.
The scandalous treatment of the Manor Gardens Allotment Society continues. In the autumn of 2007 the allotments were forcibly, but supposedly temporarily, removed to Marsh Lane Fields in Leyton, now ridiculously renamed Jubilee Park. The original planning permission was granted by Waltham Forest on the strict condition that this was to be a temporary relocation and the allotments were to return to the Olympic Park, although not to their original site, now part of the 'Not the largest new urban park in Europe for 150 years'. Indeed, back in February 2007 so determined was Waltham Forest to ensure the allotments should return that it threatened to throw a spanner in the works when it turned down the LDA’s first planning application forcing the LDA to offer concessions and reapply.
But as many predicted at the time once created the likelihood was the allotments at Marsh Lane would not be removed come the end of the Olympics. And so it has transpired with Waltham Forest giving permission for a permanent set of allotments. For the New Lamas Lands Defence Committee, which campaigned to retain the open space at Marsh Lane, this has been a bitter pill to swallow. Not only has the open space been lost but environmental measures which were supposed to have been taken to screen the allotments have never been carried out.
Now the ‘scandal’, as far as Waltham Forest is concerned, is the notion that open space in the Olympic Park should be ‘lost’ to allotments. The original plan was for the allotments to be returned to a site at Eton Manor. Not all the allotments mind you. The LDA refused to treat the allotments as a society, which it was, only agreeing to the return of those individual allotment holders who had moved from the original site.
Submitted by Julian Cheyne on Sun, 12/01/2014 - 22:51.