Thanks to satellite data from NASA and Google, researchers discovered that North Korea has begun logging the Mount Paekdu Biosphere Reserve, a 326,000-acre United Nations forest preserve and habitat of the endangered Siberian tiger.
Professor Guofan Shao of Purdue University - who studies Mount Paekdu remotely using satellite and sensors - noticed that perhaps 75% of the Mount Paekdu preserve's uninhabited core area had been deforested after observing the area using NASA and Google imaging technologies. Furthermore, North Korea's stringent visitation policies and less-than-transparent government hamper ecological researchers' efforts to determine the extent of the logging. Says Professor Shao:
Particularly in the core area, there should be no human activity - no deforestation [...] But when you look at the data with Google Earth, you can see the forest is no longer intact [...] I don't really understand what's going on in the nature area [...] They may want to grow something, or they may just want the timber.
The adjacent biosphere on the Chinese side - the Changbaishan Biosphere Reserve - had experienced tree loss as well, but this was from the prior overharvesting of pine nuts, a practice that has been banned in that area since 2007. Our guess as to what North Korea is up to? They're building a habitat for Pulgasari, natch.