The forests located on more than 1,000m altitude in the Republic of Korea have been beloved as recreation places with beautiful evergreen coniferous tree species such as Jezo Spruce (Picea jezoensis (Siebold & Zucc.) Carriere), Khingan ﬁr (Abies nephrolepis (Trautv.) Maxim.), and Korean fir (A. koreana E. H. Wils.). As climate change with abnormal high temperature and extreme drought events accelerates, however, these coniferous species are facing the crisis of decline. Especially, Korean fir is one of the representative endangered species listed on the IUCN Red List. In Korea, there are many efforts to conserve these species, which are vulnerable to climate change pressure. As the Framework Act on Agriculture and Fisheries, Rural community and Food Industry was revised in 2015, it has become mandatory to report the results of climate change impact and risk assessment of the forest sector every five years starting in 2016 to support the appropriate adaptation policy. Therefore the National Institute of Forest Science (NIFoS) has established monitoring framework to assess the climate change impacts on the vulnerable coniferous forests since 2015. And in 2016, the status of vulnerable conifer forests was investigated using helicopter. This study presents the primarily results of the investigation of forests’ structure and health status from the five representative mountains, Mt.Gyebang, Mt.Jiri (established in 2015), Mt.Taebaek, Mt.Deogyu and Mt.Seorak (established in 2016).
Considering the slope and the altitude of each mountain, total 140 monitoring sites were established in more than 1,000m altitude areas of five mountains. According to the primary investigation results, most patterns of diameter at the breast height (DBH) class of the vulnerable coniferous species showed the bell-shaped distribution. In Mt.Seorak, Khingan fir showed the reversed 'J'-shaped distribution while the number of seedlings was not many. Although the mature trees are declining, reproductivity was shown to be low status with few number of seedlings in the most monitoring sites (less than about 350 seedlings per ha in average). For instance, only two Korean fir seedlings were found in Mt.Deogyu monitoring sites. Therefore the structure of these coniferous forests was assessed as being difficult to be regenerated. The established monitoring sites are planned to be monitored biennially at least. Continuous monitoring and assessment of climate change impacts on this vulnerable forest would contribute to support the ‘the Conservation Strategy for Vulnerable Conifer Species’ declared by the Korea Forest Service in 2016.