Traditional farming system in Korea has been acknowledged as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS), a designation which is managed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Started over a thousand years ago, The Republic of Korea’s Damyang Bamboo Field Agriculture System relies on a bamboo-based multilayered organisation of production where tea trees and mushrooms are inter-cropped with bamboos.
Bamboo groves, usually formed on the hilly areas in a valley, provide natural waterways around the fields. In this way, the system ensures the dynamic circulation of water, nutrients and biodiversity providing essential ecosystem services to the local communities.
In addition, a tangle of rootstocks of bamboos prevents the loss of soil from heavy rains or floods, fending off disasters. Bamboo fields form a colony to protect the villages from the cold winds in winter and the sweltering heat in summer. Bamboo plants have strong roots in the ground which makes the soil more stable. Thus, the Damyang bamboo cultivation plays an important role in preserving the landscape from soil erosion and violent temperature variations.
The Damyang bamboo fields allow farmers to earn good income not only from harvesting bamboo shoots but also from Jukro tea (special green tea), medicinal plants such as broadleaf Liriope and wolfberries (goji berries), as well as special-purpose crops including mushrooms, all of which are compatible with bamboo cultivation.
Farmers depend on traditional ecological knowledge and technique for good management of bamboo trees in the different growing stages including site selection, planting, fertilisation, thinning, trimming and harvesting. The bamboo trees are selected and cultivated according to the needs of each farmer and are genetically different.