From: "Hyunju Lee" <>
Subject: Petition for top Spoonbill Sandpiper site
Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 12:33:03 +0900
Apologies for extracting your addresses from birding servers and sending
this petition to you direct, but we are very much out of the loop here, and
need to let as many people know as quickly as possible about the chance to
influence the decision on the reclamation of one of East Asia's prime
shorebird (wader) estuarine systems, Saemankeum in South Korea.
Birdlife International and Wetlands International Asia-Pacific are already
writing letters on the issue, but we need, as you can imagine, to broaden
the appeal to the general birding public...if it is at all possible, we
would therefore really appreciate your posting this message to your
friends, colleagues and listserver groups.
A thousand e-mails from the international biirding and conservation
community could make an enormous difference...
Again, many apologies but also thanks in advance for any help you might be
able to give,
Wetlands and Birds Korea
Best Chance to Help Stop the World¡¯s Largest Ongoing Tidal-Flat
The World's Top Site For Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann¡¯s Greenshank.
Apologies for any cross-postings (or sense of deja vu!).
Two years ago South Korean environmentalists and the international birding
community conducted a highly
successful international e-mail campaign that helped delay the ongoing
(pronounced ¡°Say-Man-Gum¡±) Reclamation project.
The 40 100 ha Saemankeum Reclamation on the west coast of Korea calls for
construction of a 33km long seawall (presently 59% complete), converting 30
ha of tidal-flats and 10 000 ha of shallows into rice-fields and
makes it the largest such project in the world.
In size it is equivalent to 10 Japanese Isahaya Bay Reclamation projects,
blocking off most of the Wash in the UK.
The Saemankeum project, part of a national reclamation Master Plan calling
conversion of at least 70% of all remaining estuary and tidal-flat
initiated in 1991 without genuine environmental impact assessment or
However, in the interim South Korean environmental awareness has been
rapidly, as has peoples¡¯ understanding of the negative impacts of
Following growing protests (including the last e-mail campaign), the
suspended the project for over a year, while it tries to work out ways to
possible impacts of damming two adjacent estuaries, and converting their 40
of intertidal wetlands into rice-fields.
Now, in May 2001, after months of conflicting signals, the South Korean
government finally appears poised to make a decision on whether to restart
project, or to cancel it once and for all.
The decision is a politically difficult one for the incumbent government.
Opinion within South Korea is both passionate and divided. Huge sums of
have already been invested in it, and those in power within the local
region want it
continued for the jobs the construction supports.
However, a growing number of the public, all major environmental groups and
the Ministries of Environment and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and
strongly opposed to the reclamation, on the grounds that the existing
critically important for biodiversity and fisheries, while the reclamation
enormous pollution problems, and degrade a significant part of the broader
For those interested in wetland and bird conservation both within and
Korea, Saemankeum is a critical but clear case.
Both government and independent research confirm that the existing
the most important shorebird (wader) habitat in the nation.
Saemankeum is for example the best place worldwide for the fast-declining
probably critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus
with peaks of 200 individuals in recent autumns representing possibly 5-10%
remaining world population. A single group of 60 Nordmann's Greenshanks
guttifer seen in 1998, out of less than 1 000 worldwide, also constitutes
count globally in recent years.
Other top bird species include peaks of 60 000 Great Knot Calidris
of a world population of less than 350 000), 40 000 Dunlin Calidris alpina
(believed largely Alaskan breeders), and internationally important
other globally threatened species such as Saunders' Gull Larus saundersi
(ca 700 at
maximum, or 10% of the world's population), Black-faced spoonbill Platelea
and Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes.
Probably some 30 species of waterbird in total are supported by the site in
concentrations recognized by the Ramsar Convention as "internationally
and many of these are Species of Global Special Conservation Concern.
Beyond the immediate impacts of this reclamation in itself, the project's
would signal clearly that South Korea values reclamation over conservation.
significantly undermine efforts being made by the relevant ministries to
intertidal wetlands and their natural resources, and to honor national
under both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar
a result, other projects in progress or being considered (which could claim
50% or more of remaining tidal-flats nationwide) would become substantially
difficult to cancel.
In addition continuing the Saemankeum Reclamation would send a clear signal
support for reclamation in neighboring countries Japan, North Korea and
each of which have also been undertaking extensive reclamation projects
to the degradation of the Yellow Sea eco-region.
In sharp contrast, however, the cancellation of the Saemankeum project now
be a major force for change not only within South Korea but throughout
enabling substantial policy changes leading towards long-term conservation
Yellow Sea's¡¯ charismatic but threatened wildlife.
With a government announcement on the project to be made in the coming two
weeks (believed on or around May 23), now really is the best chance to show
support for those in government and society who are opposing this most
of reclamation projects.
With many thanks in advance,
International Liaison, Wetlands and Birds Korea (The Korean organization
dedicated to wetland and bird conservation through cooperation, research
education: Korean partners to the WWF-Japan and Wetlands International
Program Yellow Sea Ecoregion Initiative).)
In cooperation with
Nam Ho Gun, Green Korea United (Committed to building and maintaining an
ecologically sound and sustainable Korean peninsula and world)
Please give 10 minutes of your time to help stop this reclamation project:
to forward this message to your friends, colleagues and to relevant
newsgroups, and a further 5 minutes to send a mail of support for NGOs and
Ministries of Environment and of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who are
for wetland conservation in South Korea.
Personal messages are perhaps best, but to save time, please feel free to
and paste the message below:
To all those it may concern,
We would respectfully like to add our voices to those of Korean NGOs and of
Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries,
for the cancellation of the Saemankeum Reclamation project.
We understand the extreme international importance for biodiversity of the
Saemankeum area (comprising both the Mankyeung and Tongjin estuaries), and
follow with interest all efforts being made by your government to conserve
If applicable, organisation.
And send to:
We will then pass on your messages to the relevant government ministries,
appropriate) and our home-pages.
For further information on Saemankeum in English please refer to Wetland
Korea home-page at:
and in Korean at
Green Korea United's home-page at