World Wetlands Day 2001: Republic of Korea

19/01/2001

(posted to the Ramsar Forum, 1 February 2001)


Dear Forum members,

I just wanted to pass on best wishes for Worlds Wetlands Day to all wetlanders from Wetland and Birds Korea...and to explain what we are doing here in South Korea to mark the day.

We have today (February 1st) completed a month long northern winter survey of coastal wetlands and waterbirds, concentrating on two species typically associated with estuaries, Dunlin Calidris alpina and Saunders's Gulls Larus saundersi. The survey was followed by a documentary team (for national broadcast later in the year) and the results will be presented at a press conference on the morning of the 2nd, followed by a media visit to a tidal-flat and an evening slide show for local teachers and the general public.

This is one of the many events organised at local sites being held around the country.

Ultimately, the data from the WBK survey will also feed into a Yellow Sea wide overview being jointly prepared by WWF Japan, Wetlands International China and ourselves, and will, we hope, support steps being taken towards fulfilling the ambitious targets set out in COP 7 Resolution 21, which calls for a review of exisiting policies on intertidal wetlands and the designation of more intertidal wetlands, especially tidal-flats, as sites of International Importance. This was a Resolution admirably sponsored by the South Korean government in Costa Rica...

The WBK survey revisited over 20 sites that met the Ramsar waterbird criteria (for identifying wetlands of international importance) which we had first surveyed in 1999. Sad to report, reclamation at many sites in South Korea is progressing as before, and two major sites, Asan bay and Namyang Bay have been severely degraded: at the former site the bay mouth has been almost completely sealed, while at the latter the seawall, whose construction was temporarily suspended in 1999, was found to have been recently completed. Some confusion, however, exists over Saemankeum, the world's largest ongoing tidal-flat reclamation project (at 40, 100 ha) ....some say construction has stopped, while others note that the dumper trucks are still dropping their loads onto the tidal-flats...

Reflecting the loss of tidal-flat hectarage and the degradation of that which remains, Dunlin numbers at the top 19 sites nationwide had fallen from the low 21 716 in 1999 to only 13 366 in 2001, though Saunders's Gull numbers remained almost unchanged - in fact increasing 10% from 1999 to reach 2 535 (over 30% of the world's suspected population).

In relation to the above, we would welcome hearing from Forum members about the following:

1) have there been any significant changes in policies towards intertidal wetlands since the San Jose COP where you are?

And

2) Is a global tidal-flat/estuary conservation network (re)forming in preparation for the next conference?

Again, wishing all forum members the best of World Wetland Days (and Years!),

Nial Moores
Steering Committee and International Liaison, Wetlands and Birds Korea,
E-mail (personal): spoonbill@hotmail.com E-mail (shared): wetlandfriends@hotmail.com
NEW PHONE NUMBER: 82-16-230-7964
Sanghun Bldg, 2 F, Hoiwon 1-Dong, Hoiwon-Gu Masan City Kyungnam South Korea

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