Fwd: [OB] Petition for top Spoonbill Sandpiper site

Subject: Fwd: [OB] Petition for top Spoonbill Sandpiper site
From: Axel Braunlich <>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2001 10:26:27 +0200
Dear fellow birders,

sorry if this e-mail is a bit off-topic within your list. It is about the
world-wide largest reclamation project, in South Korea. Please read the
text below carefully. You can help to stop it!

With kind regards,
Axel Braunlich
Oriental Bird Club Representative for Germany and Austria

>From: "nial moores" <>
>Mailing-List: list ; contact

>Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 06:57:36
>Subject: [OB] Petition for top Spoonbill Sandpiper site
>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 déjà vu!).
>Two years ago, with your help, South Korean environmentalists 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
>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?s 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
>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
>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

Axel Braunlich
Brusseler Str. 46
13353 Berlin, Germany
tel.: +49 30 4536692

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