Established after the Korean War in 1953, the 155-mile-long DMZ that divides the two Koreas was at one time considered the most dangerous and heavily militarized border in the world.
Although technically the two nations are still at war, in the fifty years since the cease-fire nature has reclaimed the area, and there is a conscious effort to keep it that way.
In South Korea, just thirty miles north of Seoul, there stands a long stretch of wilderness that has become home to migrating flocks of rare cranes and the remaining bears and leopards of the region.
This accidental wild life preserve covers an expanse of 390 square miles of varied terrain that has been untouched for more than half a century. Its diversity uniquely contains almost every type of ecosystem known to man.
Conservationists and wildlife activists are pushing for its establishment as a nature park, which crosses the boundaries of both Koreas as a possible stepping-stone to peace.
The creeping influences of increased industrial activity and extensive deforestation on both sides of the border have greatly polluted the air and water of the DMZ.
â€œWhat has so fortuitously been saved could be recklessly lost. As resilient as these habitats have proven to be, they can’t sustain this level of development on a broader scale,â€ says Hall Healy, president of the DMZ Forum, a US-based NGO working to preserve the area.
Although there are many hurdles confronting the creation of a large nature park in the DMZ, it is a project that can only lead to better things for all concerned (no matter how many legs they may have).
Of equal importance as saving the wildlife is the dream that cooperation could lead to a permanent peace between the two Koreas.