Posted by Jason Loghry, July 4, 2013
Occasionally, I receive personal email alerts of news articles or stories baiting investment or highlighting the ongoing transformation of formerly one of the world’s most important staging sites for migrating shorebirds: Saemangeum, a site once supporting more than 400,000 migratory birds annually, including several endangered waterbird species, such as the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Most of these articles have mentioned the reclamation project’s future city will be “eco-friendly” or “green”, but science has proven the project itself to be quite the contrary (please see: http://data.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/SSC-OP-047.pdf).
It’s hard not to be cynical, but almost a year after the IUCN World Congress meeting in Jeju, and after the passing of Motion 32, which includes:
APPRECIATING the commitment of the Republic of Korea to the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention in 2008 (paragraph 22, Ramsar Resolution X.22) that “intertidal mudflats should be preserved and that no large-scale reclamation projects are now being approved in the Republic of Korea”;
I find myself suspicious of this commitment, especially after reading the article below. Is Saemangeum not still salvageable? Are policy-makers and government taking course to reverse what has been identified by science as an ecological catastrophe? What responsibility does a nation have as a signatory to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on Biological Diversity?
From Yonhap News, July 4:
Gov’t spurs development of Saemangeum reclamation area
“As part of the effort to create some 81.7 square kilometers of agriculture land by 2020, which accounts for about 30 percent of the total reclamation area, the government began building infrastructure on Thursday such as irrigation channels, streets and reservoirs.
To push for diverse projects in an effective fashion, the government will launch a new agency in September to be in charge of the Saemangeum development plan, the PMO said. (PMO: Prime Minister’s Office)
‘Along with pushing for government-led projects, we will strive to lure investment from private entities,’ said Kwon Tae-sun. (Kwon Tae-sun is chief of the Office for Saemangeun Development Planning under the PMO)
It aims to transform the region into an eco-friendly waterfront city with high-end industrial, tourism and agricultural facilities as well as science and research institutes.
‘In March, OCI decided to buy 570,000 square meters of land in Saemangeum, and we expect more companies both at home and abroad to make an active investment here,’ he added, citing the country’s top polysilicon maker.”
To read the full article:
To read more about Saemangeum: