6 August 2008
A delegation of three Korean NGOs visited Wetlands International’s Headquarters in Wageningen at the end of July. Objective of their visit was to highlight the potential impacts of the Grand Canal Project to be built in Korea.
The Buddhist Environmental Solidarity, Eco-Horizon Institute and Birds Korea all presented the forecasted impacts of such a project on wetland biodiversity and livelihoods in the region, while questioning the economic viability and stressing how opposed popular opinion in Korea is to the project.
The first phase alone would comprise a total length of 553km, 19 locks, 16 dams, a boat lift and 26km of tunnels to link Seoul (in the North-West) to Pusan (in the South-East). The second phase would then link up the south-west of the country.
The forecasted impacts of the canal are of great concern considering the endangered species such as the Scaly-sided Merganser (Mergus squamatus) that would be affected, together with 11 Important Bird Areas and the Ramsar site of Upo.
Wetlands International’s CEO Jane Madgwick expressed great concern regarding the threat the canal represents to endangered bird species, biodiversity and livelihoods.
The South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has recently announced the suspension of the Grand Canal Project considering the environmental impacts and the growing concern of the Korean people.
With the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention taking place in the Republic of Korea (October 28 until November 4), Wetlands International hopes this will be an opportunity for a better understanding of the impacts involved and a definite decision as to the future of the project.
Also, we are very much looking forward to The Saemangeum Shorebird Monitoring Program Report 2008 (by Birds Korea and the Australian Wader Studies Group), which will be published soon. It will give a three year comparison and true measure of the impacts of the ongoing Saemangeum reclamation project on populations of migratory birds.
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