Citizens everywhere across Seoul are experiencing a surge of happiness and hope thanks to a citywide greening project. Since 2013, the Blossoming Seoul Campaign has been encouraging citizens to plant and cultivate flowers, trees, and shrubs in various areas of the city where they spend a good part of their daily lives. Thanks to this citizen-led, citywide greening project, the demand for green spaces and nature-friendly lifestyles has been growing as well. As more citizens come to participate in this movement of beautifying and greening their living spaces, neighborhoods are improving. Diverse green spaces cultivated by citizens are now emerging as new venues for public activities and celebrations. The Blossoming Seoul Campaign is also being widely benchmarked by other cities in Korea and abroad as an excellent example of public-private partnership and communication about the environment.
|Blossoming Seoul Campaign||Campaign event|
The Blossoming Seoul Campaign involved the establishment of an administrative support system for the greening efforts of citizens, providing a wide range of greening materials and subsidies, and the organization of diverse public events designed to raise public awareness of the campaign and encourage people to engage in greening on a daily basis. Thanks to these efforts, citizens have successfully planted gardens covering a total area of 260,000 square meters across Seoul, almost 20 times the size of Seoul Plaza. Over 500 neighborhood, business, tenant, and school groups participate in the annual greening campaign, adding more plants, flowers, and greenery to the community spaces that surround them. Over the past three years, 920,000 citizens have participated in the campaign, working together to plant a total of 10.88 million trees and plants with the help of nongovernmental organizations and businesses. The campaign has also secured KRW 8.9 billion in funding from 79 corporations, establishing itself as a new, effective model for corporate social responsibility campaigns and public-private partnership for the governance of public programs. Through almost three-dozen diverse events open to public participation and over 120 education and training sessions held in the forms of a landscaping academy and civic gardener development program, the campaign has also produced 1,387 green-thumbed leaders to promote the campaign in their respective neighborhoods across the city.
|Citizens’ initiative to plant trees and flowers||Civic Gardener Development Program|
The first and foremost objective of the Blossoming Seoul Campaign is to encourage citizens to initiate and complete greening and landscaping projects independently in their own neighborhoods. If a neighborhood succeeds in bringing together at least 10 locals interested in working together to plant and cultivate plants, it can organize a greening community with help from the city’s expert committee and receive support and subsidies from the city on the basis of the landscaping value, sustainability, public interest, and communal nature of its project.
The city provides flowers, trees, and other such greening materials, worth between KRW 1 million and KRW 2 million, for each of the 400 or so neighborhood communities chosen to participate in the campaign. About 70 of these communities are also eligible to receive subsidies, ranging from KRW 2 million to KRW 20 million. All the participating communities are expected to bear at least 20 percent of the project cost.
Under this campaign, Seoul has subsidized the green transformation of 1,591 spaces across Seoul over the past three years, including vacant corners of neighborhoods, retail malls, public schools and kindergartens, apartment complexes, alleyways, and small strips of land surrounding tree-lined streets. Of these, 1,396 locations received greening materials and 195 received subsidies.
|Gyonam School (Gangseo-gu)||A vacant corner of a neighborhood|
For a city like Seoul, surrounded by mountains and old fortresses, it is natural to have hiking trails that encircle the city, such as Seoul Dulle-gil, inviting people to take long, leisurely walks while enjoying the view of Seoul from all angles. Thronged with flowers and trees, Seoul Dullegil has become an iconic symbol of meditation and leisure for the citizens of Seoul.
The city has also launched a participation-based neighborhood- and alleyway-grooming project, encouraging residents to work together to beautify their neighborhoods with plants. The project involves dispatching landscaping experts to applicant neighborhoods to help them brighten up their dark alleyways with plants and murals.
|Grooming project at Baramdri 4-gil, Pungnap-dong, Songpa-gu|
Flowers and trees have dramatically transformed these participating neighborhoods, putting big smiles on the faces of all participants and onlookers. Thanks to the talent of 22 volunteer landscaping artists, the project unfolded across a total area of 41,555 square meters at 68 locations in the city, with the city government spending KRW 2.298 billion in total and 11,012 local residents participating. The participation of locals has ensured the diversity and unique appearance of each space and also strengthened neighborhood communities. The greening campaign has helped reduce crime, illegal parking, and unauthorized garbage disposal, filling up long-vacant spaces with flowers and trees instead.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government actively publicized the campaign via diverse media channels, including TV screens on buses and subway cars and public electronic billboards as well as online channels, and has opened the Spring Plant Bazaar, where citizens can purchase various varieties of plants at below-market prices. The city has also embarked on joint campaigns with businesses and organized events open to public participation, such as the Seoul Landscaping Expo. The city has also received applications from willing groups of citizens, including tenants’ associations at apartment buildings, vendors’ associations at retail malls, public schools, and neighborhoods to plant flowers and trees in spaces in their communities, and provided them with expert advice and financial subsidies. Seoul also provides cleaning supplies and training for citizens participating in the Adopt a Tree campaign, and the Civic Landscaping Academy hosts landscaping and greening contests at the end of every year.
|Blossoming Seoul Contest (Grand Prize)||Landscaping Expo|
Seoul intends to spread the positive and regenerative power of green spaces throughout the city, with the aim of rebuilding communities, encouraging participation and interactions among citizens, and finding innovative, nature-friendly, and cost-effective solutions to urban problems.
There is nothing like beautiful green plants to bring communities together. Think of Seoul as it used to be, filled with grey skyscrapers. Now imagine all those high-rise buildings and their surrounding areas decorated with vibrant flowers and trees. That image alone is enough to motivate us to make our neighborhoods and city greener.