Republic of Korea names small urban wetland


On the eve of the meeting of the Conference of the Parties due to begin in two weeks' time, the Republic of Korea has designated a new site for the Ramsar List. As described by Ramsar's Assistant Advisor for Asia-Oceania, Nessrine Alzahlawi, the Han River-Bamseom Islets (27 hectares, 37°32'21"N 126°55'41"E) comprise a pair of small sandy islets located in the Han River in central Seoul, the only remaining naturally occurring riverine islands in the Han River ecosystem that have not been altered by human settlement. The waters around the islets provide a spawning and nursery ground for a number of Korean indigenous fish species, including the Korean striped bitterling (Acheilognathus yamatsutae), the Korean spined bitterling (Acanthorhodeus gracilis), and the Korean oily shiner (Sarcocheilichthys nigripinnus morii).

The site is a centrally located urban wetland that provides a wintering habitat for many common waterfowls, whilst in the summer it provides a breeding ground for a number of species such as Spot-billed Ducks (Anas poecilorhyncha) and the Black-crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax). Invasive species such as Red-eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans), hops (Humulus scandens), ragweeds (Ambrosia trifida fo. Integrifolia (Muhl.) Fernald), and one-seeded bur-cucumber (Sicyos angulatus) are seen as potential threats. The islets are protected as an 'Ecosystem and Landscape Region for Conservation' under city legislation.

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