Update on Saemangeum, Republic of Korea
(posted to the Ramsar Forum, 25 July 2003)
From: Nial Moores (email@example.com)
Date: Fri 25-Jul-03 11:30 AM
Subject: [Ramsar Forum] Best birding site in Asia: Spoon-billed Sands and all that...
Dear fellow wetland specialists and conservationists,
When all around we hear of wetland loss and degradation, it great to share one piece of possibly very good news: the massive Saemangeum coastal reclamation project in South Korea (the world's largest) was suspended (temporarily at least) on July 15th 2003 by domestic courts.
Challenged for many years by South Korea's leading NGOs and criticised by the majority of the world's leading conservation NGOs, the project got its first real international exposure in early July 2003 when it was slammed by BBC World's superb documentary "Dyke Hard" (which can be watched online at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3046368.stm).
Within one week of the broadcast, by apparent coincidence, a national court ruled in favor of a case brought by Korean NGOs and local people: suspend the reclamation project immediately.
The government, however, just as quickly protested the ruling, insisting that the court allows at least some maintenance work to continue.
Lacking an understanding of the depth of international concern or of ecological processes, the South Korea government is now insisting on what it sees as a compromise. It is determined to push the court to allow the project to restart, to progress on with the 40 100 ha reclamation (which will dam two estuaries that together support at least 27 species of waterbird in internationally important concentrations). But, it will continue the reclamation, it states, in both an environmentally and economically viable way.
Reclamation of the Yellow Sea's most important site for shorebirds, of an area supporting the livelihoods of 25 000 local fishers (according to local NGOs), cannot be done in an environmentally viable way.
The reclamation project is in direct contradiction of the obligations and spirit of both the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
As concerned members of the international conservation community we seem also to have an obligation too: to encourage the South Korean government to recognise the benefits of stopping the reclamation and of fulfilling its own international obligations to these conventions. .[see below for an opportunity to express your views]. . . .
With very best wishes and many thanks in advance,
Nial and Charlie Moores, WBKEnglish (with Ms. Kim Choony of KFEM at
Wetlands and Birds Conservation Specialist
South Korea and East Asia
Research Fellow and Visiting Lecturer, Sungkonghue University, Seoul
E-mail (personal): firstname.lastname@example.org
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Further information: http://www.wbkenglish.com/saemref.asp, http://english.kfem.or.kr/
BBC News article, by Alex Kirby, 7 July 2003: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3046368.stm
BBC Earth Report video (.ram format): http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/cta/progs/03/one_offs/earth_report_wk27.ram
An opportunity to make your views known: http://www.wbkenglish.com/petition01.asp