Fwd: Petition for top Spoonbill Sandpiper site

Subject: Fwd: Petition for top Spoonbill Sandpiper site
From: "Tracey Austin" <>
Date: Sun, 13 May 2001 01:47:00 -0000
This petition appears to address an important issue that may be of interest to readers. Can any list members discuss the conservation importance of this site from actual experience please?

From: "Hyunju Lee" <>
Subject: Petition for top Spoonbill Sandpiper site
Date: Sat, 12 May 2001 12:33:03 +0900

Dear shorebirders,

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,

Nial Moores
Wetlands and Birds Korea
Best Chance to Help Stop the World¡¯s Largest Ongoing Tidal-Flat Reclamation
Project: Seamankeum,
The World's Top Site For Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann¡¯s Greenshank.

Dear all,
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 Saemankeum
(pronounced ¡°Say-Man-Gum¡±) Reclamation project.
The 40 100 ha Saemankeum Reclamation on the west coast of Korea calls for the construction of a 33km long seawall (presently 59% complete), converting 30 000 ha of tidal-flats and 10 000 ha of shallows into rice-fields and reservoirs. This
makes it the largest such project in the world.
In size it is equivalent to 10 Japanese Isahaya Bay Reclamation projects, or to
blocking off most of the Wash in the UK.
The Saemankeum project, part of a national reclamation Master Plan calling for conversion of at least 70% of all remaining estuary and tidal-flat nationwide, was initiated in 1991 without genuine environmental impact assessment or debate. However, in the interim South Korean environmental awareness has been growing rapidly, as has peoples¡¯ understanding of the negative impacts of reclamation. Following growing protests (including the last e-mail campaign), the government has suspended the project for over a year, while it tries to work out ways to assess the possible impacts of damming two adjacent estuaries, and converting their 40 000 ha
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 the
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 money 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 both the Ministries of Environment and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries are strongly opposed to the reclamation, on the grounds that the existing tidal-flats are critically important for biodiversity and fisheries, while the reclamation will create enormous pollution problems, and degrade a significant part of the broader Yellow
Sea environment.
For those interested in wetland and bird conservation both within and outside of
Korea, Saemankeum is a critical but clear case.
Both government and independent research confirm that the existing tidal-flats are
the most important shorebird (wader) habitat in the nation.
Saemankeum is for example the best place worldwide for the fast-declining and probably critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, with peaks of 200 individuals in recent autumns representing possibly 5-10% of the remaining world population. A single group of 60 Nordmann's Greenshanks Tringa guttifer seen in 1998, out of less than 1 000 worldwide, also constitutes the highest
count globally in recent years.
Other top bird species include peaks of 60 000 Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris (out of a world population of less than 350 000), 40 000 Dunlin Calidris alpina articola (believed largely Alaskan breeders), and internationally important concentrations of 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 minor
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 important'
and many of these are Species of Global Special Conservation Concern.

Beyond the immediate impacts of this reclamation in itself, the project's continuance would signal clearly that South Korea values reclamation over conservation. It would significantly undermine efforts being made by the relevant ministries to conserve intertidal wetlands and their natural resources, and to honor national obligations under both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention. As a result, other projects in progress or being considered (which could claim a further 50% or more of remaining tidal-flats nationwide) would become substantially more
difficult to cancel.
In addition continuing the Saemankeum Reclamation would send a clear signal of support for reclamation in neighboring countries Japan, North Korea and China, each of which have also been undertaking extensive reclamation projects contributing
to the degradation of the Yellow Sea eco-region.

In sharp contrast, however, the cancellation of the Saemankeum project now would be a major force for change not only within South Korea but throughout region, enabling substantial policy changes leading towards long-term conservation of the
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 destructive
of reclamation projects.

With many thanks in advance,

Nial Moores
International Liaison, Wetlands and Birds Korea (The Korean organization
dedicated to wetland and bird conservation through cooperation, research and education: Korean partners to the WWF-Japan and Wetlands International China
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: 5 minutes to forward this message to your friends, colleagues and to relevant list-servers or newsgroups, and a further 5 minutes to send a mail of support for NGOs and the Ministries of Environment and of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who are responsible
for wetland conservation in South Korea.
Personal messages are perhaps best, but to save time, please feel free to simply cut
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 the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, in asking
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 will follow with interest all efforts being made by your government to conserve the area.

Yours respectfully,

If applicable, organisation.

And send to:

We will then pass on your messages to the relevant government ministries, media (if
appropriate) and our home-pages.

For further information on Saemankeum in English please refer to Wetland and Birds
Korea home-page at:

and in Korean at

Green Korea United's home-page at

Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Fwd: Petition for top Spoonbill Sandpiper site, Tracey Austin <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU