North Korea used to have abundant forest stocks but underwent substantial deforestation and degradation of forest in recent decades. This study examined morphological changes of forest cover in North Korea between the 1980s and 2000s. Land cover data based on Landsat TM imagery were obtained as images from the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Environment. The images were processed and used for the morphological spatial pattern analysis (MSPA) and network analysis. MSPA classified the forest cover into morphological classes such as core, islet, bridge, perforation, edge, loop, and branch. The network analysis identified individual networks of forest, each of which represents a patch of connected forest. The results are summarized as follows: (1) forest cover sharply decreased between the 1990s and 2000s, particularly in western provinces; (2) morphological classes indicating forest fragmentation such as islet, branch, and edge consistently increased in their fraction to the total area between the 1980s and 2000s; (3) islet, branch, and edge also increased in number during the same period; (4) forest networks shrank in size and increased in number. Overall, the results demonstrate that deforestation and fragmentation of forest occurred simultaneously in North Korea during the time.
Morphological spatial pattern analysisNetwork analysisDeforestationFragmentationGreen infrastructureNorth Korea