The Republic of Korea designates two Wetland Conservation Areas
The Republic of Korea, which has joined the Ramsar Convention in 1997, has presently 16 Wetlands of International Importance with a total surface area of 14,547 hectares.
Ungok Wetland (180 ha; 35°28’N 126°39’E) is located in North Jeolla Province. The whole site is designated as a Wetland Conservation Area and part of the site is an Electric Source Development Area and an Agricultural Conservation Land Area. Ungok Wetland is located in the southwest part of the Republic of Korea and consists of Ungok Lake and Obaygol low-moor (Obaygol wetland). Obaygol low-moor was used for rice paddy cultivation in the past, and overtime the site was completely abandoned.
This site supports important species like the vulnerable Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis) and Seoul Frog (Pelophylax chosenicus), and “Natural Monument” species such as the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and Chinese Goshawk (Accipiter soloensis). “Natural Monuments” are strongly linked to Korean cultural heritage and are consequently protected under national law. Designated as an Electric Source Development Area, the quantity and quality of water is being managed to supply a nuclear power plant. Ungok Wetland is mostly surrounded by natural forest and a Dolmen World Heritage Site is also located here.
This site is thought to be the biggest dolmen community in Asia and is thought to be home to human beings who lived by hunting and gathering during prehistoric times. The Department of Nature Environment, Jeonju Regional Environmental Agency and Department of Environment and Hygiene, Gochang-gun Office, is responsible for the management of this site.
The second site, Dongbaekdongsan (59 ha; 33°31'N 126°43'E), is a nationally-designated Wetland Conservation Area in Jeju-do Province. Dongbaekdongsan is located on the volcanic island of Jeju, off the southern coast of the Republic of Korea. The site is important for the recharge and conservation of groundwater, as well as for its biodiversity, especially the unique ‘Gotjawal’ forests.
The importance of Dongbaekdongsan is mainly due to the mixture of Aa Lava and Pahoehoe Lava rock types that are present at the site. The Aa Lava rocks have crevices and lava tubes, which allows rainwater to seep through and with the Gotjawal forest cover, contribute to a higher rate of groundwater recharge. The groundwater at Dongbaekdongsan is used as one of the many groundwater sources for the approximately half a million people on Jeju Island. The Pahoehoe Lava rocks have however fewer cracks and so are better able to retain rainwater.
This leads to the formation of streams, ponds and vernal pools and unlike many other Gotjawal forests, the surface water found in the Dongbaekdongsan forest areas is able to support a range of wildlife. This includes important species like the critically endangered Isoetes sinensis (F:Isoetaceae), the endemic Cheju Salamander (Hynobius quelpartensis) and Mankyua chejuense (F: Ophioglossaceae), arecently discovered genus.It also supports legally protected “Natural Monument” species, which are identified as having some natural heritage value such as the Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) and the nationally endangered Boreal Digging Frog (Kaloula borealis). “Natural Monuments” are strongly linked to Korean cultural heritage and are consequently protected under national law. The Department of Environmental Policy and Department of Environmental Management, as part of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, is responsible for the management of this site.
Summaries prepared by Marian Gwilliam