The organizing committee for the 2018 Pyeong Chang Winter Olympic Games and Gangwon Province were urged by Korea’s largest environmental group to scrap their plan to build a ski slope on Mount Gariwang. The mountain was designated back in 2012 as the venue for the downhill competition during the Olympics. Mount Gariwang is 1,460 meters high and has been recognized nationally as ecological value. It is believed to be a huge habitat for Wangsasure trees – a hybrid Aspen unique to the Korean peninsular.
Despite opposition from environmentalists, the construction of a ski slope will begin early next month, according to the provincial government. The organizing committee has cited the International Ski Federation (FIS) rules as to why it had to choose Mount Gariwang. The Gangwon Province will soon submit a plan to minimize the environmental damage from the construction so to be able to start construction in early June.
The Korea Forest Service listed the mountain as a site for the protection of flora genes and forest eco-systems. However, the service removed its name from the list last year, approving resort construction.
Reflecting the environmental concerns, the environment ministry, last year, ordered that the organizing committee and Gangwon Province submit a recovery plan for after the Games and engage representatives of environmental groups in the process. The groups have turned down the request to cooperate as a protest.