SEOUL, South Korea plans to set up a tree nursery on its eastern border city of Goseong as it seeks to promote cooperation with North Korea in the field of forestry, ruling party officials said Wednesday.

The state-run Korea Forest Service is planning to establish a tree nursery and a facility to store seeds in the border city, 470 kilometers east of Seoul, by next year, officials from the ruling Democratic Party (DP).

The move is part of forestry cooperation projects between the two Koreas that follow up on the historic April 27 summit.

Forestry cooperation is expected to help North Korea tackle the bad harvests that are being driven by soil erosion and deforestation. It should not breach international sanctions, as the move is widely viewed as humanitarian aid.

About 32 percent of North Korean forest has been destroyed -- the country has the third-worst deforestation among 180 countries, according to Seoul's unification ministry.

The government plans to plant seedlings in designated border locations in North Korea and expand the scope of cooperation to areas such as pest control, they said.

In a related move, the state-run forest agency launched a task force for promoting cooperation with the North.

Senior officials from the DP, the government and the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae picked forestry cooperation as one of the inter-Korean projects to be pushed for with urgency at their meeting Tuesday.

The South originally planned to discuss the issue at high-level talks with the North scheduled for Wednesday, but North Korea abruptly canceled the meeting, citing ongoing joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.

Source: Yonhap News Agency