Seoul, a Blooming Flower : Citizens-led Green Campaign

Date 2015-06-20 Category Environment Updater scaadmin
Seoul Metropolitan Government
Last Update


‘Seoul, a Blooming Flower’ is a citizen-led campaign to create more green space in the city. Seoul promotes the green movement by providing institutional as well as encouraging communities to actively participate in the campaign.

The Grey, Concrete City

Lack of Forest
Although 40% of Seoul’s land is composed of open green space, 70% of it located on the outskirts of Seoul, making it difficult for citizens in the urban centers to access.
At the same time, most of green campaign were led by the public sector and there was little public awareness or interest in greening or planting the city. Lack of institutional base also worsened the problem. On top of it, massive-scale development plans reduced green belts in the city and its ecosystem was severely damaged as a result of road constructions. In 1979, Seoul’s farmland and forests made up 54.3% of Seoul’s farmland and forests made up 54.3% of Seoul’s total land, each taking 14.4% and 39.9% respectively. However, by 1996, the share of farmland/forests dropped to 31.2%, each taking up 5.9% and 25.3%. The figures further dropped to 3.5% and 24.9% by 2010.
War on Concretes
In March 2013, Seoul announced its ambition to conduct a campaign called ‘Seoul, a Blooming Flower’ throughout the year. The campaign is led by citizens with a goal of replacing the city’s concretes with beautiful flowers and trees. It is similar to ‘Britain in Bloom’ and ‘Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest’ campaigns and aims to expand a culture of voluntary participation of citizens not just in spring but all year around in order to overcome difficulties faced with public-led campaigns due to lack of budgets and personnel.

Citizen Engagement in Tree-Planting Project

Citizens-led Tree-Planting System
The city of Seoul adopted a multi-faceted and multi-layered approach to foster more active and voluntary participation in the tree-planting movement. As part of the effort, autonomous districts established plans for the campaign, recruited participants built administrative support system. Seoul, on the other hand, provided advertisement support, evaluated autonomous districts on their progress, and held contests to disseminate excellent examples.
Tree-Planting Efforts in Daily Lives
Seoul also gave its citizens the information on how to green the area without having to make too much effort. include placing a small flower pot in front of homes, stores, villages, schools and workplaces or taking care of trees and parks in nearby streets. It also expanded the movement by encouraging citizens to play a web or smartphone-based tree-raising game called ‘Tree Planet’ and invited them to attend tree-planting ceremony in real life.
Selecting Districts for Concentrated Support
The city of Seoul selected following 6 key areas including alleys, neighborhoods, apartments, shopping districts, schools and roadsides and supported and helped citizens to plant trees and flowers.
Flower and Tree Planting Project with Participation of Citizens The project encourages community members to plant trees and flowers in their concrete alleys in order to create green space full of life where neighbors can meet and communicate with each other.
Flower and Tree Planting Support Project in Unused Land The project encourages citizens to plant trees and flowers in unused lands.
Flower and Tree Planting Support Project in Apartments The project supports vendors/groups and apartment houses to plant trees and flowers in and out of apartments including porches.
Flower and Tree Planting Support Project in Shopping Districts The project supports vendors/groups who plant trees and flowers in and around buildings including stores which in turn can contribute to improving urban street scenes where tour routes and floating population are concentrated.
Flower and Tree Planting Support Project in Schools The project was conducted in 213 schools to promote schools to plant trees and flowers in and out of the building.
Roadside Green Strip Project The city started the project of planting trees and flowers between street trees in order to create green strips in roadsides. Trees were also planted in subway station exits and vents. In particular, by conducting Adopt a Tree campaign, Seoul supported citizens who are interested in tree-planting activities to adopt and take care of a tree for certain period of time.


Citizens Building Green Belts

Taking Care of Plants in Parks
Seoul recognized that voluntary and steady efforts were need to overcome its limited budget and personnel allocated for park management. The city government also realized that citizen engagement was necessary in areas where the government support often fails to reach. As a result, demonstration project began in 2012 where 265 citizens in 2 civic groups adopted and grew 4,478 trees. After receiving positive feedback from citizens of Seoul, the project was officially launched in 2013. So far, 10,348 people in 206 groups participated in taking care of 7,800 street trees and 371,000 trees in 164 parks.
Creating a Forest Through Online Game
Seoul partnered with Tree Planet, a social enterprise, to plant trees for users in real world who have virtually raised baby trees on the game ‘Tree Planet’. 50,000 people in total have played the game for a year and approximately 150,000 trees were planted in Ningxia, China, Bangkok, Thailand and Seoul among others. Anyone can contribute to planting trees in real world after playing the game for 3~7 days and can get information on how their trees are used to create forests.
Building Star Forests With Cooperation of Private and Public
Celebrities’ fan clubs also established forests that are named after their stars. If a club applies for star forest to Tree Planet after voluntarily raising a fund, the venture consults with Seoul and NGO to plant trees. The completed star forests are managed by fans and celebrities together. In 2013, 6,648 trees worth 4,270m2 were planted and this has become a successful example of turning gifts to celebrities into a great social cause.
Nurturing Landscaping Leaders Through Academy
LWI with support from Seoul, hosted Landscaping Academy for Citizens to foster people’s understanding on gardening culture and improve their awareness on tree-planting. In 2013 2 academies were held and a total of 422 citizens in their 20’s to 70’s attended. 309 of them became active landscaping leaders after completing their course.
Voluntary Open Gardening
Seoul & You Networking of Creative (SYNC) is a group of people engaged in commercials such as commercial film directors and copywriters gathered to contribute to development of Seoul. The group proposed to host open gardening event which is opposite of guerilla gardening that promotes creating gardens without
land owner’s approval. The Open Gardening with coordination of Seoul and citizens was held as a result and the city supported the event by providing tree-planting materials produced in tree nurseries.

Seoul’s Events Encouraging Citizens’ Participation

‘Seoul, a Blooming Flower’ Performance
The city held a performance in which citizens take part in writing the name of the campaign in a huge letters (7m×10m) in the grass-filled Seoul Plaza. The letters ‘Seoul’ and ‘Flower’ were filled with pansies and the rest were filled by Flash Mob. A total of 600 citizens who applied via SNS and on-site made the letters together.
Introduction of Tree-Planting Month Instead of Tree-Planting Day
A one-off tree-planting event held every April 4 was extended to tree-planting month which lasts from March 20 to April 20. With the goal of planting at least 1 lettuce and a spring flower at home, Seoul held various events to garner greater public interest. As a result, 240,000 trees and 470,000 flowers were planted through 100,000 citizens’ voluntary participation.
Spring Flower and Tree Market
In every tree-planting month in Seoul Plaza, a symbolic place of the city, a market for spring flower and tree is held for 6 days from April 1 to April 6 in order to encourage citizens to participate in the tree-planting campaign. The green service, which connects producers and consumers directly instead of having middlemen, allows citizens to buy trees, flowers and seedlings at a cheaper price than usual. Additionally, the city prepared various events such as flower planting event and gardening expert counseling. Such events attracted 12,000 on a daily basis, or a total of 70,000 people in cumulative terms.
Campaign Partnered With Starbucks
As part of ‘Seoul, a Blooming Flower’ campaign, the city partnered with Starbucks Korea. The partnership would allow the first 1,000 people who would bring 10 used, disposable cups to Seoul Plaza to change the cups with flowers pots and tumblers. Also 2m tall flower tower made of disposable cups filled with culture soil mixed with coffee ground was set up. 1,500 flower pots and culture soil were given to citizens for free. The campaign was intended to send the message t by limiting the use of disposable cups we can protect flowers and trees ultimately saving the environment.
Family Pot Making Contest
On May 12, 2013 ‘Family Pot Making Contest’ was held in Seoul Plaza with 1,000 citizens and 200 teams participating. The event was conducted by Seoul Green Trust, Korean Society for Horticulture Science, Seoul University’s Department of Environmental Horticulture with sponsorship from Woori bank. Various programs including hands-on experience program, exhibitions and performances were provided as a way to engage citizens in gardening with their families. Instead of showcasing an artificiality managed, flawless gardens, the event focuses on giving families a chance to have a real experience in selecting and garden flowers as they wish. Also, 24 teams of citizen gardeners received prize during the event.
Flower Roads in Downtown Area
Flower roads were created in roadsides, near abandoned railroads and ground subway sections. Also, flower beds were made along Han River and streams in order to create attractions for Seoul citizens.
Korea Bonsai Exhibition
From November 18, 2013 to November 21, with Korea Forest Service and Korean Bonsai Growers Cooperative, Seoul held the 24th Korea Bonsai Exhibition on the 1st floor of Seoul Citizens Hall. The goal was to increase the number of bonsai growers and provide an opportunity for citizens to understand and learn about bonsai. A total of 80 exhibitions of 67different species including pine trees, Japanese black pines were exhibited in addition to 160 Korean flowers. The event successfully displayed the beauty of Korea’s tasteful and antique trees.

Green Culture Settling in Seoul

More than 3million trees and 1million flowers
Instead of holding a one-off tree planting event, the city of Seoul designated the period from March 20 to April 30 a Flower Tree Planting Month. Various events including Seoul Plaza performance, tree sharing events and ‘Spring flower and tree market’ were provided during the month, and as a result of citizens-led landscaping project, 3.42million trees and 10.83million flowers were planted in every corner of Seoul.
More than 300,000 Citizens Participating in Campaigns
337,400 people joined a community that planted 8,500 trees and flowers within Seoul area which means that green belts have become places for communities for sharing their thoughts and happiness together. As a result, Seoul has evolved to become a healthy place for neighbors where it is full of communications and green communities.
Green Spaces Created by Citizens
As a result of Seoul’s support, such as providing tree-planting materials to 754 sites in 6 different places including empty lands, business districts, schools, apartments, roadways and green strips in addition to funding, Seoul citizens were able to expand healthy green spaces by participating in the entire process from planning, execution to management. Especially, transition of alleys from dark and dismal to abundant wall paintings, flowers and trees received many positive feedbacks thanks to experts and citizens’ efforts.