The environment of South Korea is the natural environment of the South Korean nation, which occupies the southern half of the Korean peninsula.
Forests were cleared over many centuries for use as firewood and as building materials. However, they have rebounded since the 1970s as a result of intensive reforestation efforts. The country's few remaining old-growth forests are protected in nature reserves. South Korea also has 20 national parks. One of the world's most interesting wildlife sanctuaries has developed in the DMZ, having been virtually untouched since 1953. The uninhabited zone has become a haven for many kinds of wildlife, particularly migrating birds.
Large mammals such as tigers, bears, and lynx were once abundant throughout the Korean peninsula. However, they have virtually disappeared due to human settlement, loss of forest habitat, and over-hunting. The Siberian tiger has not been sighted in South Korea since the 1920s. Bears and wildcats can still be found in the more remote areas, such as Jiri-san and Seorak-san. South Korea also has several indigenous species of deer, including the roe deer and the Siberian musk deer. Wild boars have been growing common int years, thanks to reduced hunting pressure.
The national flower of South Korea is the Hibiscus syriacus, a species of hibiscus that blooms continually from July through October. In South Korea, it is known as mugunghwa (무궁화), meaning "eternal flower". The unofficial national animal is the Tiger, for the peninsula seems like a tiger in a point of view. The unofficial national bird is the Korean magpie, which was chosen in 1964 through a poll organized by the Hankook Ilbo.[souce]