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Subject: Fw: Tidal flat reclamation in Korea halted! Please sign  
Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 09:19:55 +1000
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   Many of you will be aware that the South Korean government has been =
reclaiming the Saemangeum area on the west coast of South Korea since =
1991.  It is planning to build a 33 km long seawall to enclose 40 100  
ha =
of intertidal flat and shallows.  This area (containing the Mangyeung =
and Dongjin estuaries) is the single most important site for waders in =
South Korea, and possibly the Yellow Sea.  Daily peak counts reach 155 =
000 waders, and perhaps 500 000 birds use the area through the year.   
27 =
species of bird use the area in internationally important numbers, =
including Spoon-billed Sandpiper (max count 280, out of perhaps 2 000  
in =
the world), Spotted Greenshank (>100, out of 1 000) and Great Knot (119  
000, out of 380 000).
   Last week, a court ruling halted the entire project, and demanded a =
re-evaluation of the aims of the project.  This provides an unexpected =
opportunity to intensify public opposition to the project.  =
Coincidentally, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, is  
visiting =
South Korea and hopefully the NZ government will raise the issue =
formally with the South Korean government.  Both NZ and South Korea are  
signatories on the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological =
Diversity.  NZ is also a member on the Bonn Convention on Migratory =
Species.  A final decision on the project is expected within the next =
2-3 months; equally so, a decision within the next 2-3 weeks is =
possible.  This may be our ONLY chance to shift opinion on this =
appalling habitat destruction.  I encourage EVERY WADEROLOGIST to read =
the information below (provided by Nial Moores, a conservationist =
working on waterbirds in South Korea) and to check out the Saemangeum =
website (  If your computer is  
up =
to it, watch the BBC documentary "Dike Hard".  It will give you a very =
good idea of what is happening.
   An on-line petition is being run by WBKEnglish, and will be forwarded  
to the Korean Ministry of Trade and Affairs.  To add your name to the =
petition, go to and enter your  
details.  Your name will be added to the list.
   Please send this e-mail around to anyone who may be interested.
   Many thanks, Phil Battley


   From Nial Moores, WBKEnglish, South Korea
   Dear All,
   Thank you in advance for any support you can offer us here in South =
   I am writing in relation to the Saemangeum reclamation project on the  
South Korean west coast: the world's largest ongoing reclamation =
project, originally aiming to convert 40 100 ha of tidal-flats and =
shallows into rice-field and agricultural reservoir =
   Although all of us as environmentalists are prone to see every battle  
as the most significant, issues could not come much bigger than this =
   The Saemangeum area comprises two free-flowing estuaries (the =
Mangyeung and the Dongjin), extensive salt-marsh, tidal-flats (up to 25  
km wide) and extensive shallows. The area supports the largest =
concentrations of shorebirds known at present in the whole of the  
Yellow =
Sea - with a peak day count of ca 150 000 individuals. These include =
maximum day counts of 3 350 and 8 430 Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa  
lapponica =
(Kuaka) at the Mangyeung and Dongjin estuaries respectively (Barter, =
2001: "Shorebirds of the Yellow Sea: Importance, Threats and =
Conservation Status"; Wetlands International Global Series 9, =
International Wader Studies 12). In total, ca 30 species of waterbird =
(including 8 globally threatened species) are found there regularly in =
internationally important concentrations.
   With the visit of New Zealand Prime Minister Clark to South Korea =
between July 24th and July 28th, there is a real chance to influence  
the =
future of this reclamation project: especially after a historic court =
ruling passed on July 15th 2003 (see Press release: =
   The project has long been mired in controversy. Designed by the =
military government of the 1980s, construction of a 33 km long outer  
sea =
dyke was started in 1991. Increasingly opposed by a large percentage of  
the Korean people, by all the leading environmental organisations and  
by =
the two major ministries charged with wetland conservation here, the =
project was even suspended for 1 -year (in 2000) due to environmental =
concerns and protests (including letters sent by Birdlife  
International, =
Wetlands International, FOE-International, WWF-International etc). =
However, it was re-launched for political reasons in 2001, and the =
newly-elected president Roh also reaffirmed his decision to continue =
with the reclamation on June 5th 2003 (despite his admitting that there  
is now no clear end-use for any land created).   A surprise court  
ruling =
on July 15 however, happily again threatens the project's continuation,  
as it found that the reservoirs created by the project will be too =
polluted to use as proposed and the expense of resolving water  
pollution =
issues too high. In a very positive move, the Court demanded that =
construction on the outer dyke (already 80% completed) must stop =
immediately, while a higher court decides how to proceed.
   The domestic media has covered the court's ruling, and the nation is =
again plunged into debate. The Ministry of Agriculture, the proponents =
of the project, insist it must continue; while others worry about the =
waste of money involved in either stopping or continuing on with the =
project.  As conservationists we must raise the issue of South Korea's =
responsibility to both the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on =
Biological Diversity; we must alert and inform media and other =
governments of the costly impacts of this reclamation - to coastal =
fisheries, migratory bird populations and South Korea's international =
   Although last week the reclamation project was aired (and slammed) on  
BBC World's Earth Report (see: =, and = ) international involvement in  
the issue has been surprisingly sporadic. with the court's ruling, we =
believe the visit by New Zealand's Prime Minister could really help to =
tip the balance in favor of canceling the Saemangeum project..
   We ask your help in taking this chance, to kill off the last of the =
massive reclamation projects in South Korea, and to help turn the tide =
in the Yellow Sea towards conservation.
   For more information and images please refer to the media-friendly =
reference page:
   Nial Moores
   Wetlands and Bird Conservation Specialist
   South Korea
   82-11-9303 1963
   Phil Battley
   533A Ruahine St
   Palmerston North
   New Zealand
   Phil Battley
   533A Ruahine St
   Palmerston North
   New Zealand

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