14 April 2022

Pohang's "High Line" achieves first ever Green Flag Award in Korea

Pohang's "High Line" achieves first ever Green Flag Award in Korea

The Railroad Forest in Pohang has become the first winner of a Green Flag Award in Korea and also the first in East Asia.

The city's mayor, Lee Kang-deok, addressed over 60 of the city's gardeners and management staff during a celebratory ceremony on Wednesday 12th April to congratulate them for the achievement and to receive the official flags and plaques from the judges.


Image: The 6.6km route passes through 5 different jurisdictions of South Korea's 5th largest city

The Railroad Forest, also known as "Forail" (forest+rail), and 포항철길숲 in Korean, is a 6.6km former railway line, regenerated into valuable green space for the city. As well as a linear route mainly used for walking and cycling; the park also includes several much wider designed areas for residents to dwell, outdoor gym stations for exercise, and cultural additions such as libraries, cafes and public art.

Forging a new identity

Pohang is South Korea's 5th largest city, located on the country's South East coast, about 300km from the capital Seoul. In recent times the city has seen innovative transformation in a bid to diversify away from it's steel industry mainstay, and towards tourism, technology and pharmaceuticals. Alongside this, an environmental vision has also taken shape through a trio of major project's that link the benefits of outdoor space and recreation directly to public health. The city's regional 'Greenway' initiatives comprise of the Eco-Greenway, Ocean-Greenway and Central Greenway; the latter of which was spearheaded by the development of the FoRail Park.


Image: Thousands of residents use the Forail on a daily basis for leisure, recreation or commuting

Like other projects of it's kind (most notably New York's world famous High-Line), Pohang City made sensible use of a disused railroad dating back to the early years of the steel industry. The retention of various original features such as sections of railway, signal boxes and an impressive steam engine positioned high above one of the many gardens bring a genuine sense of place. POSCO - Pohang's steel company is the 4th largest producer in the world. But despite this, the city is forging a new identity and the journey of development the FoRail has been through helps to drive the feeling of progress the city is making in the realm of citizen health and wellbeing.


Kim Hyun-gu, Head of the Green City Project Team at Pohang City said:

“The Green Flag Award certification shows that the level of construction and management of the Greenway Project and the railroad forest is excellent enough to meet international standards."

"Our dream is becoming a reality” 


Image: Public art and other cultural initiatives provide a variety of interest and education along the way

Judging process

Pohang City Hall have been working on an application to the Award for some time. And as soon as Korea's pandemic related entry restrictions were relaxed a judging team travelled from England to carry out the assessment. Green Flag Award judge, Ruth Lin Wong Holmes - the Principle Designer for Landscape and Public Realm at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for London Legacy Development Corporation, was accompanied by Carl McClean, International Development Manager for the Green Flag Award at Keep Britain Tidy. 


Image: Green Flag Award judge Ruth Lin Wong Holmes enquires about maintenance practices as part of the site-assessment


The judges said: 

"Pohang is clearly a city that values the health of its residents, with the ambition and vision to provide green and blue spaces. These connect citizens to nature and promote active and healthy lifestyles. We are impressed with the wide range of quality facilities, set within a welcoming and well-maintained landscape."


Image: A new public library 'pod' with shaded reading area frames an Acer coming into leaf

Pioneering the way

Keep Britain Tidy, who run the Green Flag Award under licence from the UK Government hope that Pohang's pioneering approach will rub off on other cities in South Korea. The judges met with representatives from Seoul Metropolitan Government who have shown an interest in applying in future.


Carl McClean, International Development Manager for Green Flag Award said:

"Congratulations to everybody involved in achieving the Award on the first attempt. It's not an easy thing to do and the team we worked with at Pohang City Hall were clearly dedicated to improving quality of life in the city through the Forest Railroad. Well done!"

"I'm now really keen to support more cities in Korea to apply for the Award, who can now follow in Pohang's tracks. I encourage anybody interested in applying to get in touch with me. This is a really positive programme and we're excited it's now reached East Asia"


Image: Parks management begin the judging visit at one of many information boards throughout the site


FURTHER INFORMATION

The Green Flag Award® is a non-profit international accreditation programme that recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces. Today the Green Flag Award proudly flies above more than 2,300 places in 17 countries around the world.

To find out more in general, or apply for an Award, whichever country you are based in; please feel free to explore our website and get in touch via [email protected]

If you know of a park or a country not yet involved in the Green Flag Award that might be interested, please Contact Us